Punjab seeks $500m WB loan for rural water supply, sanitation

Published April 26, 2021
The Punjab government is seeking $500 million from the World Bank to provide water to rural areas and address sanitation problems in 16 districts and tehsils. — AFP/File
The Punjab government is seeking $500 million from the World Bank to provide water to rural areas and address sanitation problems in 16 districts and tehsils. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government is seeking $500 million from the World Bank to provide water to rural areas and address sanitation problems in 16 districts and tehsils to serve a population of 6.65 million in the province.

Interventions will include governance and institutional reforms, investments for both water supply and sanitation, strengthening monitoring through use of information technology, capacity development and behaviour change.

A World Bank document says the project will target districts in Punjab that are the poorest and have the worst outcomes on child stunting, access to and quality of sanitation infrastructure, and bacterial contamination of drinking water at source and at point of use. Overall, the project is expected to cover about 2,000 villages, main settlements and 8,500 small settlements in Khushab, Mianwali, Sargodha, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Pakpattan, Chiniot, Jhang, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalnagar and Multan districts.

These districts are the worst off in their region. Overall, access to water and sanitation and child health indicators are much worse in south Punjab as compared to the averages for central and northern Punjab.

Overall, the project interventions will have positive impacts on environmental and social conditions, including the positive impacts on environmental, aesthetics and hygienic conditions of the villages through better access to sanitation and good quality drinking water, according to the project document.

From the limited research on rural solid waste generation in the province, it can be deduced that on average a rural household produces 61kg of solid waste and a typical village produces about 23,500kg per month. Of this, 64 per cent is biodegradable and suitable for composting, 18pc is recyclable and 18pc is residual waste that requires safe disposal.

The solid waste management activities will be among the first activities to be implemented and monitored for progress. It will serve as a measure of both the effectiveness of the first round of behaviour change and the readiness of the village residents and village organisations to play their respective roles in maintaining village hygiene.

Poorly managed animal fecal waste is also a major source of bacterial contamination of the environment. In rural Punjab, it is common for households to own and/or keep ruminants and poultry inside or adjacent to dwellings which lead to a concentration of animal waste very close to humans.

The project will support behavioral change with minor goods or equipment to improve animal waste management at the household level. Given the widespread use of animal waste for fuel and manure, safe handling at the household level will likely be the option preferred by most owners of livestock. However, subject to community willingness, the project will pilot communal management of animal waste to produce manure for agricultural use.

The project will support Covid-19 mitigation measures in rural Punjab through a series of measures, and the focus will be on actions that households and communities can take to ensure physical distancing and basic hygiene; small-scale infrastructure to directly promote good hygiene practice; and enhance jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled labour.

The project will develop and use a comprehensive IT-based manage­ment information system to track project implementation progress, WSS service delivery performance, the flow of public and donor funds earmarked for WASH and related financial management information, and outcome indicators.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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