Water: A Desideratum

Published: 09:51 PM, 4 Oct, 2022
Water: A Desideratum
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Water is essential for healthy ecosystems, socioeconomic growth, food and energy production, and human existence, which is at the heart of sustainable development. As the vital link between humanity and the environment, water is also at the core of adaptation to climate change but unfortunately, safe water and improved sanitation facilities are critical to human survival in many areas all over the globe. 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services (WHO/UNICEF 2019). Moreover, another report in 2020 showed that 2 billion people depend on health care facilities without basic water resources. Similarly, over half of the global population, or 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services.

In our country, despite a fast-growing power yet millions still lack clean water and decent toilets. Pakistan is a multi-cultural nation whose power and influence are rapidly expanding. It has the world’s fifth biggest population and is rapidly urbanizing which makes reaching everyone exceedingly difficult. Research shows that an estimated 70% of households still drink bacterially contaminated water. According to WaterAid, 21 million people still do not have clean water to drink and one in three people do not have a decent toilet. 53,000 Pakistani children under five die annually due to poor water and sanitation. Children who have diarrhoea regularly are more likely to fall behind in class or quit completely. Additionally, it can lead to stunting, which now affects about 44% of children in Pakistan.

Furthermore, reaching the poorest people is challenging due to tough terrain, including deserts and inaccessible mountain ranges, as well as unstable political situations. More people are flocking to towns than in any other country in South Asia, which is stressing the region's already limited services. The challenges are significant when natural calamities like floods are included. Vulnerability to catastrophes often leaves hundreds and thousands of affected people who frequently require emergency aid with access to sanitation and water.

Challenges like these are tackled by making water, toilets, and hygiene a normal part of daily life. To end problems like open defecation, communities must embrace using the toilets as an everyday practice. Local communities are supported with tools and they are also recommended to claim their rights to basic services. NGOs are helping the government, local partners and service providers build proper facilities that will withstand disasters so that the improvements will last whatever the future holds. In addition to this, the government must plan, prioritize, and budget frameworks for the provision of clean water services. The goal should be to increase the water supply and give nine percent to the people who lack access to clean drinking water. 

There is no doubt that water serves as a crucial link between man and the ecosystem but it is ill-fated for mankind that access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation system are scarce necessities in many parts of the world. Our country is also facing a huge threat regarding water in terms of sanitation and clean drinking water. Necessary measures must be taken in time to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Categories : Opinion
Amal Kamal

The Writer is a Policy Consultant at the Ministry of Communication and Works Punjab.