Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rio+20 Conference: Sindh Needs Safe Water & Sanitation needed

“We recognise that water is at the core of sustainable development as it is closely linked to a number of key global challenges… In this regard, we reaffirm our commitments
regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. We recognise the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality.
“We underline the need to adopt measures to address floods, droughts and water scarcity, addressing the balance between water supply and demand, and to mobilise financial resources and investment in infrastructure for water and sanitation services.
“We stress the need to adopt measures to significantly reduce water pollution and increase water quality, significantly improve wastewater treatment and water efficiency and reduce water losses.”These few selected excerpts clearly signify the importance of water and sanitation and, human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, at the global level.
Climate change, urbanisation and industrialisation have impacted the water landscape by increasing the water demand and at the same time degraded water supplies, as is happening in Sindh. The mounting challenges posed by these pressures highlight the importance of water.
In rural Sindh access to clean water, or the lack of it, determines the ability of families and individuals to lead safe and productive lives. Experiments are being made with membrane-based water treatment plants to provide safe drinking water, as against the conventional municipal water treatment plants. This is an inappropriate approach that is
being adopted.
A major British bank has recently announced a $100 million global investment in water to tackle water risks in rivers and, bring safe water and sanitation to over a million people.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending millions of dollars on improving sanitation in South Asian and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In India, Bollywood actress Vidya Balan has been named as the brand ambassador for improving sanitation. Bollywood celebrity Shahrukh Khan is likely to join the campaign to end open defecation in India. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and actor Aamir Khan are promoting school sanitation and hand-washing in India
In rural Sindh, poor drinking water quality and sanitation are the major culprits in causing diarrhoea, a major killer of children under five.
Diseases caused by unsafe sanitation accounts for roughly half of all hospitalisations in the rural Sindh. There are many studies which suggest that access to safe sanitation reduces child diarrhoea by 30 per cent and significantly increase school attendance as well.
According to WHO, improved sanitation can produce up to $9 for every $1 invested by increasing productivity, reducing healthcare costs, and preventing illness, disability, and early death.
An ADB-funded programme is in place that aims at improving water and sanitation in Sindh. The programme covers a few cities only. The chief minister should expand the programme’s scope to cover all cities, towns and villages of the province. The increased funding from the ADB, as a result, presents an excellent opportunity to provide safe water
and basic sanitation to all in Sindh.
F. H.
Sindh Kohistan region is a mostly hilly and partly plain area in the south west of Sindh province. It is consisting on Kirthar mountain, which is hilly strip at the western border of Sindh and Baluchistan, stretching from Karachi in south to District Dadu in the North.

Water is a rare commodity here. People use to fetch water either from dug wells or rainwater collection ponds. The water in dug wells is usually brackish that why people use to prefer water in rainy ponds, which could be highly contaminated. Water borne diseases are very common here. As most parts of Pakistan women bear the burden of fetching water from dug wells, ponds and hand pumps. One can witness the poor, feeble and malnourished women waiting for hour for their turn to fetch water and carry it on their heads and walking for miles in the scorching sun. Situation worsens during summer and drought seasons, when water dries up in the village ponds, springs and wells. People are forced to drink very dirty water which is beyond ones imagination. Livestock and other animals also shares the same water from stagnant rainwater ponds. Drinking water from the pond and open dug wells causes water born diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, , typhoid, cholera, malaria and gastro-enteritis particularly among young children. Child mortality is serious issues in this area, especially during the drought season.

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