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April 6, 2017

‘Sanitation a basic human right’


April 6, 2017

Poor hygiene leads to multiple socio-economic and environmental problems


Sanitation is basic human right, which must be provided to every human being. Poor hygiene and sanitation not adversely impacts our health but also lead to multiple socio-economic and environmental problems, especially contamination of water resources.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid while addressing the inaugural session of the Third Pakistan Conference on Sanitation here on Wednesday.

The minister said according to the Global Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2015 by UN Children's Fund and World Health Organisation, 64% of population of Pakistan had access to improve sanitation.

"Pakistan ranked second in South Asia with very high under five-mortality rate of 72 per 1,000 children. There are 25 million cases annually suffering from diarrhea. More than 300 children die everyday due to poor sanitation and hygiene services."

The minister also said in September 2015, Pakistan along 190 countries committed itself to realization of targets set out in the sustainable goals.

"On 19th February 2016, the National Assembly unanimously passed the resolution adopting 2030 agenda as the national development agenda. This why the sustainable goals are now Pakistan developments goals," he said.

The minister said the ministry had developed the National Sanitation Policy in 2006 and National Drinking policy in 2009 after the floods of 2010 these policies provided necessarily guidance to government agencies and development partners in preparation of plans in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH Sector).

He said both policies were being reviewed in the light of initiatives of planning ministry to align all policies with SDGs.

"At the national level, SDGs monitoring and coordination unit has been established to plan supervise and monitor implementation. Special focus has been placed on goal 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The Ministry of Climate Change is providing technical support to provincial governments, departments for localising the provisional targets."

The minister said the ongoing population census in Pakistan had two specific and detailed questions on water and sanitation.

"In addition to estimated baseline data relating to SDG 6, we will have soon accurate and up to census date on water and sanitation facilities for each Pakistani," he said.

He also said that we plan to establish a WASH cell at Ministry of Climate Change for coordination of all key stakeholders. Pakistan is the host of next South East Conference on Sanitation in 2018.

"The unit will also play a key role in organising this important regional conference in Pakistan. The Ministry of Climate Change has also developed the Pakistan approach to total sanitation, which seeks to establish and sustain and open defection free environment both in rural and urban areas through behaviour change and social mobilisation."

Federal education minister Balighur Rehman, who also attended the event, said improved sanitation and water cannot be achieved without educating masses.

He compared the statistics of education sector of 2012-13 with 2015-16.He said 64 % of government schools had toilets and now it has 8% increased. He also informed that water and sanitation can be improved through awareness and habit development training and we have started inter provincial conference after 18th amendment.

Former minister Javed Jabbar said Pakistanis disposed sewage into lakes, rivers and sea adversely impacting environment and people. "There should be respectful way of using water in agriculture, drinking and household consumption. It is also issue of policy priorities by the government. The structure of control at grass root level is weak in terms of local government."

Ms. Angela Kearney of the UNICEF said the government of Pakistan's efforts were helping achieve water and sanitation targets in the country.

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