Majority of population exposed to unsafe drinking water: new survey

Majority of the population in the country is exposed to the hazards of drinking unsafe and polluted water from both surface and ground water sources.

According to newly released Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15, as derived from the national water quality monitoring programme carried out by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR)PCRWR, the four major contaminants in drinking water sources of Pakistan were bacteriological (68 percent), arsenic (24 percent), nitrate (13 percent) and fluoride (5 percent).

About two million wet tons of human excreta are annually produced in the urban sector of which around 50 percent pollute water bodies. The national conservation strategy states that almost 40 percent of all disease-related deaths are connected to water borne diseases. Other sources of water pollution are industrial effluents, solid waste, hospital waste, chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

In this perspective, it is the demand of time to take milestone initiatives to ensure that drinking water is as free of such impurities as is possible and this can be accomplished by timely monitoring and treatment of drinking water quality. To address this issue of national importance, federal government, through PCRWR has implemented several national water quality monitoring and surveillance activities such as The National Water Quality Monitoring Program (NWQMP). The outcome realization that the federal, provincial and local governments need to take immediate initiatives for the provision of safe drinking water to the public in order to prevent the onslaught of water borne diseases. Advocacy efforts for the awareness and education of the general public, regarding the water quality testing and treatment are also required. Access to an adequate supply of water for all (agriculture, industry and domestic users) is one of the absolute priorities of Vision 2025.

Major goals for water security are: Increase water storage capacity, applicable to the requirements of each province in line with defined strategic needs and international benchmarks: from currently 30 days to 45 days by 2018, and 90 days by 2025.

Invest in proven methods and technologies to minimize wastage (e.g. in the agriculture sector), promote conversation and gain efficiencies through rationalization of pricing. Enable more effective allocation with direct reference to national & provincial priorities and related social and economic considerations.

Establish institutional mechanisms e.g. a National Water Commission to effectively manage all resources of water (surface, subsurface ,rain) and their sectoral and regional allocations. Provision of access to a minimum baseline of suitable water to every person in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has signed number of regional and global commitments in 2013 and 2014 and is committed to fulfilling these commitments for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

The Planning Commission will coordinate between all stakeholders towards formulating an Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy. Implementation of a comprehensive National Water Policy: reflecting a transparent and coherent institutional framework and policy adapted to the demands of the 21st century which also gives due consideration to climate change would be adopted at the earliest.

The government will carefully reconsider applying reasonable water usage charges and incentive to encourage efficient and effective use of our scarce resource. Further, comprehensive awareness drive will be started to educate people about the benefits of judicious consumption and shared consequences of wastages. Due consideration will be provided to harvest rain water in lakes and ponds and also at the household and community levels.(Pakistan Vision 2025).

Sustainable use of resources and environmental concern has become increasingly important. The inability to address the situation will result in extremely high environmental and economic cost in future. Environmental factors are changing drastically and if left unchecked, pollution and environmental degradation will pose a monumental threat to social and economic growth of the country.

Pollution on a wide scale is damaging the land, water, and air as unchecked economic activity has decreased the availability of fresh water resources along with clean air. Since Pakistan is predominantly an agrarian country, hence the dependence of agriculture on natural resources makes it necessary to help improve the country’s capacity to achieve environmentally sustainable economic development to meet the requirements of present and future generation. Environmental degradation is also fundamentally linked to poverty since poor are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood.



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