Access to safe drinking water remains a problem: report


ISLAMABAD: Access to clean drinking water continues to be a major problem in Pakistani cities with only 65.2 percent of households in Pakistan’s ten major cities having access to piped water connections the State of Pakistani Cities (SPC) report launched on Thursday revealed.

The report presents the current state of development in the 10 largest cities of Pakistan and sheds light on the state of the economy, social service delivery, planning and development, housing, environment and heritage in the cities of Pakistan.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate Change with the technical assistance of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat), the SPC report was funded by the Australian government and highlights the fundamental socio-economic drivers contributing to the local development needs of Pakistan.

The report states that most cities lack sewage treatment facilities and solid waste management which leads to a drastic increase in environmental pollution and contamination of surface and groundwater bodies. Disruptions and shortage of power supply remains a persistent problem in harnessing the potential of the socio-economic development of the cities.

The report says that according to census 2017, around 75 million people live in urban areas and 54 percent of the total urban population lives in 10 cities of the country. The report finds that larger cities have seen an enormous urban sprawl due to an increase in population and periphery areas becoming an extended part of the cities.

It further says that Pakistani cities vary in terms of their size, economy, employment and tax revenues. Services and industry are the major employment sectors in Pakistani cities. The share of the service economy in the cities is larger than the share of services in the national economy.

Poverty in urban areas is a major and visible phenomenon. Six out of the top 10 major cities have double-digit poverty figures with Quetta having the highest poverty rate at 46 percent and Islamabad with the lowest at three percent.

The report reveals that increasing urbanisation has created pressing demands for housing in cities and has resulted in the creation of informal settlements which lack access to basic amenities.

The report emphasises that Pakistani cities need to better plan and manage their development to meet the needs and demands of their citizens. Cities need to be more responsive towards the environment and adopt technologies and economies that are less wasteful and destructive in order to flourish.

Thus, taking a more realistic approach to development that meets the demands of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.