Civil society organizations urged Govt to improve access to sanitation and water facilities

Peshawar: Integrated Regional Support Programme IRSP, Water Aid, Plan International Pakistan along with other civil society organization at a launching yearlong campaign of sanitation and water asked the governments to keep its promises to improve access to sanitation and water facilities as nearly 52 percent of the population has no access to improved sanitation facilities and 23 percent of the population defecate in open in Pakistan.

The campaign was launched with the title of “Keep your promises on sanitation” on Tuesday at Peshawar Press Club.

Briefing the journalist about the campaign, Syed Shah Nasir, Executive Director IRSP said that the aim and objective of the campaign was to establish a broadbased civil society and citizens’ alliance to create a momentum to improve governance of the sanitation sector.

Similarly, he said that the campaign was being launched in parallel on 19th March 2013, in four countries of the region Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the campaign was simultaneously launched in Islamabad, Quetta, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.

He informed that disparities in urban and rural areas were quite visible, as out of 94 million people who do not use improved sanitation facilities, 75 million of them live in rural areas, saying 40 million people who defecate in open, the vast majority 37 million of them live in rural areas.

He lamented that Pakistan had second highest under five child mortality rate as 72 per 1000 live births in South Asia while economic impact of neglecting sanitation costs Pakistan Rs343.7 billion annually which is 3.9 percent of the GDP.

Sanitation in Pakistan, he added was at a crisis point and requiring urgent action, therefore, he said state should declare emergency for sanitation as despite no shortage of highlevel political commitments and the overall progress of sanitation, particularly reaching to poor and vulnerable communities is unsatisfactory.

He called on governments to incorporate budget line for sanitation and hygiene in the budget at all levels of federal, provincial and districts and develop a clear investment criteria and plan based on low sanitation coverage and exclusion.