Challenges in Punjab
The Punjab is the second largest province of Pakistan in terms of land mass, after Baluchistan, with an area of 205,344 km2 (79,284 sq. mi). The Punjab consists of five city districts, 36 districts, 144 Tehsils, 3,464 union councils and 25,914 villages. The Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, inhabited by 98 million people — i.e. it is home to 56% of the total population of Pakistan. Of the 98 million people living in the province, 38% (37 million) live in urban and 62% (61 million) in rural areas while as per gender ratio, 48% are female and 52% are male. The Government of Punjab has made substantial efforts to improve water and sanitation in the province in last several years, but a lot remains to be done especially in the provision of sanitation and safe drinking water. According to the Pakistan Social Living Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2012-2013, 100% population of Punjab has access to drinking water from a variety of sources, including tap water 13%, 38% hand pump, 43% motor pump, 2% Dug Well & 4 % other sources.
Access to Drinking Water
Access to tap water is very low in rural areas – 13% as compared to 43% in urban areas of Punjab. While the coverage of water supply through improved water sources has increased, the quality of drinking water remains substandard, as the major sources are hand pumps and turbines supplying contaminated or brackish water. The piped water supply is also prone to different types of contamination due to worn-out or leaky pipes. Access to safe drinking water is understood as the proportion of people using improved drinking water sources: household connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater.
Financial burden of waterborne diseases in Punjab
A rare study conducted by Babar Chohan in the year 2007 suggests that Rs.101 billion is being spent because of either direct or indirect implications of waterborne diseases in the Punjab Province. Moreover, the annual cost under the head of averting expenditures, in lieu of bottled water and boiled water, has been estimated at Rs.2.4 billion. For the year 2014 this cost is likely to increase largely. The study also concludes that all but the poorest of the poor are willing to pay (a small amount) for clean water. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) financed the $ 50 million Punjab Community Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, which was active in rural areas in all districts of the Punjab province from 2003 until the end of 2007. As a result, about 2.5 million additional people in 778 villages were provided with water supply and sanitation facilities according to the ADB, “with full cost recovery”. Community-based organizations maintain and operate the schemes and charge the users. Tehsil municipal administrations were strengthened and received training. In addition, communities received training in health and hygiene practices and the construction of latrines.