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November 14, 2018

State of water supply, sanitation major health hazards in Pakistan: WB

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November 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: With a stunting rate of 38 percent, Pakistan is still among the group of countries with the highest rates of stunting globally and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven, a World Bank (WB) report disclosed on Tuesday.

The WB report cited example of Sindh where things worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted. The alarming state of water supply and sanitation in Pakistan is creating major health hazards for the entire population and young children are particularly at risk, the report states.

The report titled “When Water Becomes a Hazard: The State of Water Supply, Sanitation and Poverty in Pakistan and its Impact on Child Stunting” launched here on Tuesday states that Pakistan has made significant progress on reducing poverty, improving dietary diversity and reducing open defecation. Despite this, critical markers of child health – rates of diarrhea and stunting – still do not show any real improvement.

On establishing linkages among water supply, sanitation and poverty, the report states that the incidence of poverty declined significantly in Pakistan over the past decade and a half, falling from 64 percent in 2001 to about 30 percent in 2014.

The reduction was coupled with an increase in asset ownership and dietary diversity, with substantial gains in the bottom quintile. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) saw the largest decline in poverty, followed by Punjab and Sindh. Balochistan remained the poorest province in the country, with a headcount poverty rate of almost 57 percent in 2014.

Regional differences in living standards remain large, both within and across provinces. Rural areas continue to lag behind their urban counterparts in terms of both poverty and access to basic services like health and education and the gaps persist across all quintiles of the income distribution.

District-level poverty is equalizing over time, but there is a clear north-south divide. Both within and across provinces, the poorest districts registered the largest declines in poverty, but most of the poorest districts are in Balochistan, followed by Sindh and southern Punjab.

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