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Safe drinking water

March 22, 2011

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THE provision of safe drinking water is among the sub-indicators of Pakistan’s millennium development goals. The country has pledged to give 93 per cent of the population access to safe drinking water by 2015. How far we may yet be from meeting this target, especially after last year’s devastating floods, can be gauged from the fact that several thousands of people in Sindh are being forced to drink brackish underground water after the floods rendered the water supply infrastructure non-functional. As this paper reported yesterday — in fact, on World Water Day — the raging waters washed away 77 per cent of 451 water supply schemes in the province’s flood-hit cities and towns. Each water supply scheme in the rural areas catered to up to 20,000 people, while in urban areas it served the needs of up to 100,000 people. A study undertaken by the Drip and Reclamation Institution of Pakistan, which works under the Ministry of Science and Technology, reveals that many months after the disaster, the government is struggling to restore the water provision infrastructure.

Safe drinking water is amongst the most basic essentials of life and crucial for good health and continued productivity. The state must do better in terms of its efforts to rehabilitate the flood-hit areas and rebuild structures and infrastructures. These efforts should be multi-pronged, so that everything from water supply schemes to schools and hospitals are re-established and people can begin to piece together their lives. As yet, the government has not even managed to rehabilitate all the flood victims, with a number of the displaced still living in makeshift camps. Pakistan seems to be in danger of forgetting about the thousands of families who were victims of the floods. This will not do. A government is elected to help the people, not to ignore their needs.