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Causing a stink

As ‘World Toilet Day’ is observed globally, 48 million Pakistanis are forced to defecate in the open due to unavailability of toilets. -File Photo/Dawn.com

ISLAMABAD: As many as 97, 900 people died annually due to poor water and sanitation in Pakistan, said a report released here on Friday by an international charity.

The report by WaterAid titled: “Off-track, off-target: Why investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is not reaching those who need it most”, was released by the WaterAid`s Country Representative in Pakistan Siddiq Khan on World Toilet Day being observed on November 19 globally.

It said that 48 million Pakistanis defecated in the open and basic toilet was a distant dream for them.

Pakistan had committed under Millennium Development Goal to supply safe water to 93 per cent and adequate sanitation facilities to 64 per cent of the population by year 2015.

Yet, according to the report, only 45 per cent people used improved sanitation facilities in Pakistan. At current rates of progress the water target would be missed by 7 years (2022) and the sanitation target by 13 years (2028).

The report quoting figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef estimated that in Pakistan 54,000 children under the age of five died from diarrhea caused by contaminated water and sanitation every year.

The report said that unless urgent action was taken, the Pakistan Government would fail to meet the MDGs, including the pledge they made to halve the proportion of people without sanitation by 2015. This had massive consequences for child mortality in the country.

WaterAid's Country Representative in Pakistan, Siddiq Khan said the government also must increase the level of spending on water and sanitation, and donor governments increase the share of aid they spend on water and sanitation, so that the situation could be turned around.