ISLAMABAD: Access to clean public toilets, especially in rural areas of the capital, has been a cause of distress for residents for the last few years.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA), however, seems to be least interested in providing sanitation and hygiene rights to the residents.

As the World Toilet Day is being observed, the CDA had a plan to install public toilets in different areas of the city. In 2011 that number climbed to 100.

However, after that no work was done. The number has currently declined to 92 but many of them are non-functioning. As a result of this negligence, citizens have to go through difficulty while commuting.

Public toilets around bus stands are not maintained and they are extremely repulsive to citizens. Toilets located at the metro stations are probably cleanest in the city.

Meanwhile, responding to a query over declining number of public toilets in the city, the CDA said a project had been launched to construct modern toilets in major shopping malls, commercial areas and public parks across Islamabad.

“While existing toilets are also being upgraded, 100 new toilets would be constructed in the first phase followed by 15 more in the second phase,” said a CDA spokesman, adding in the last phase more public toilets will be constructed in each sector as per the requirements of the area.

The spokesman said under the new policy the staff of sanitation department would be present at the public toilets round the clock to keep the place clean. The CDA has decided to lease out the management of public toilets to private companies for 10 years after a policy in this regard is approved.

Meanwhile, development partners from Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) - a growing sector of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) - have joined hands to highlight the importance of sustainable sanitation.

A webinar was arranged in connection with the day wherein representatives of CESVI, WaterAid, Unicef, Save the Children and Ministry of Climate Change spoke.

The speakers urged the government to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve SDG 30, that promises access to sanitation for all by 2030, adding climate change was aggravating the sanitation in Pakistan.

It was noted that 40pc of the population in Pakistan do not have access to decent toilets.

Those who participated in the webinar included head of mission of CESVI Farhan Khan, WaterAid Country Director Siddiq Ahmed Khan, Wash specialist of Unicef Kamran Naeem and Save the Children representative Rosianto Hamid (Anton) and Dr Saima Shafique from the climate ministry.

It was highlighted that there is a dire need for collaboration between the government, civil society and development partners to attain sustainable sanitation for all.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020