ISLAMABAD: Speakers on Friday called for adequate funding for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as they were pillars of climate resilience.

They were speaking at the launch of a research-based ‘Climate Financing for WASH brief – Pakistan Scoping Brief’ at a ceremony jointly organised by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The research was led by IRC researcher Habibur Rehman. The launch was followed by a panel discussion on climate financing for WASH.

The study called upon international donors to allocate at least 35pc of climate-related budget for WASH, raising it from the existing 22pc for Pakistan and prioritise the allocation of WASH and climate-related funding to countries which were currently unlikely to achieve the WASH SDGs.

In her welcome remarks, IRC Country Director Shabnam Baloch said: “WASH is a critical entry point to reducing community vulnerability to climate impacts, closing gender gaps, health and education disparity, economic inclusion and progress. Climate resilient WASH goes beyond climate infrastructure and is critical in climate-induced disasters.”

She said while Pakistan needed $7 billion to $14 billion annually till 2050, for adaptation alone there was a dire need to address impediments such as the complexity of the process in accessing climate financing by CSOs, resource-intensive nature of issue and lack of community engagement during project development.

Member Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Idrees Mahsud called on focusing on implementation rather than making new policies, urging donors to engage with stakeholders on estimating the need and improving research to support our financing proposals.

Giving an overview on the climate financing mechanism, SDPI’s Head of Sustainability and Resilience Programme Dr Shafqat Munir said: “Despite constraints in accessing climate financing from multilateral donors, bilateral partnerships and private sector organisations, both government and non-government organisations have been struggling to get the country’s share in the highly competitive climate financing market amid cumbersome processes.”

Expert Niazullah Khan said WASH as a sector had so far not been aligned with climate agenda due to absence of a consortium that could enable national sub-national coordination and anchor the formalisation and legislative review.

Dr Fahad Saeed, who is a climate analyst, emphasised the need for introspection to see flaws in policies as compared to regional members, Pakistan was lagging in securing climate financing.

WaterAid Pakistan Country Director Arif Jabbar Khan stressed the need to increase awareness on financial losses due to poor WASH conditions at the household level.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2022

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