ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Secretary National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid on Monday said Pakistan has witnessed a 400 per cent decrease in per capita water availability - from 5,600 cubic metres in 1947 to the current level of around 1,038 cubic metres.

“This is a matter of serious concern,” she said, while speaking at a webinar on “Water on the roll: improving access to water in Pakistan.”

She said Pakistan was the fifth most populous country in the world and water scarcity was a very serious threat which will aggravate by 2025, leaving very limited water for use.

She said inadequate supply of water further aggravated food security in the country.

Besides, quality of water is another issue and Pakistan is among top 10 countries with the greatest number of people living without access to safe water.

“Contaminated water is the main reason why Pakistan has not been able to eradicate polio while diarrhoea is the key reason for infant mortality,” Dr Hamid said.

The webinar was organised by Bayer Pakistan to mark its “H2O water wheel project’ under which a specially designed 40-litre drum containers with handles are provided to people to roll water from its source rather than carry it on their heads in terracotta pots.

The project will directly benefit about 14,000 people in rural areas of Sindh and Punjab.

The parliamentary secretary said the government would study the project as it was a unique solution to provide women and under-served communities access to clean water.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said climate change was a reality in Pakistan and on a policy level the government was focused on nature-based solutions like tree plantation to counter it.

“Pakistan is certainly a water scarce country but it is not a country without water,’’ he said, adding: “We are now trying to restore our wetlands and the water that gets wasted through our macro level Recharge Pakistan project.”Other speakers said Pakistan was the third most water-stressed country according to the IMF and people’s lives were deeply affected by water scarcity and poor infrastructure of water distribution.

Bayer Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Imran Ahmad Khan said the key burden of water crisis falls on women mainly in rural areas and the water wheel project would significantly help them in such affected areas.

He said easy access to water for different purposes, including consumption, hygiene, sanitation and farming, would help improve livelihood of the water -scarce communities.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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