WORLD Water Day, observed recently (March 22), honours water while bringing the global spotlight on to the couple of billion people who lack access to clean drinking water. The event aims at accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis because water is at the heart of sustainable development.

It underpins our economy, our health, our environment, and our way of life. Water management that is done responsibly is an investment in future generations, not just the one we are part of. Thus, achieving Sustainable Development Goal-6 (SDG-6), which calls for guaranteeing that water and sanitation are accessible to everyone and are managed sustainably, is essential if we are to steer the world towards a resilient course that leaves no one behind.

Conversely, water is directly connected to all major global concerns, including growing inequality, the loss of natural resources, environmental degradation, and climate change. But we are alarmingly off track, as the world will not reach the SDG-6 target or realise the dream of giving human rights coverage to water and sanitation issues by 2030, and we need to accelerate progress up to four times.

At the same time, sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems and resources is also necessary for societal advancement and economic prosperity. Water cannot, therefore, be disregarded due to the connections between these urgent challenges.

Yet, from a national viewpoint, water scarcity is a terrifying issue since Pakistan ranks 14th on a list of 17 countries that are facing the worst water risk. Rapid population expansion, climatic change causing flood-and-drought episodes, inadequate agricultural water management, ineffective infrastructure, and water pollution are the major causes of the country’s overall water issue.

It necessitates transformational, national-level activities, including good water governance, which may offer political, institutional and adminis-trative laws, practices and procedures for making decisions and putting them into effect. To ensure that no one is left behind, it is also necessary to eradicate disparities.

In order to achieve SDG-6 and other goals and targets relating to water, it is necessary to build capacity for smart technologies that may enhance management and service delivery patterns. Also, the key elements of the Water Action Agenda — commit to action, sustain and scale up implemen-tation, and follow-up and review processes — will enable replication and scaling up of what works, and bring successful solutions on a global scale.

Dr Ainy Zehra
Karachi

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2023

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