Lack of sanitation costs Pakistan 3.9% of GDP: Report

Media Scrap Book compiles information on Pakistan's sanitary conditions, said to be among the worst in the region.

Ppi August 07, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has the worst sanitary conditions in the South Asian region and its total economic impact amounts to a loss of Rs343.7 billion, which is equivalent to around 3.9% of Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP), the Media Scrap Book reveals.

Media Scrap Book, collection of around 100 selected stories published in print and electronic media, compiled by the WashMedia-South Asia – a representative body of journalists from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka working on water, sanitation and hygiene.

The book was launched in Islamabad on Tuesday at the National Press club. It revealed that 52,000 children die annually due to diarrhea in Pakistan. It also reveals that in Pakistan, 14 million people still do not have access to safe drinking water and over 90 million are without improved sanitation. “40 million people - nearly one fourth of the total population - in Pakistan practice open defecation,” the book mentions.

Quoting data from various studies, the book points out that approximately 50 million people defecate in the open and an estimated 8 million people use shared toilets.

Pakistan, along with other South Asian nations, is facing a daunting challenge to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to its citizens. Around a billion people in the region don't use improved sanitation facilities and 700 million practice open defecation compromising their dignity.

Despite such conditions and several high-level political commitments to reverse this situation, governments in South Asia have been unable to provide these fundamental services, the Media Scrap Book observed.

Members of WashMedia-South Asia, including Amar Guriro, Abid Qayyum Sulari, Shafqat Munir and Mustafa Talpu attended the book's launching ceremony.

The WashMedia-South Asia comprises of 32 media members from all the five South Asian countries and is working for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector since January 2011. So far, the members of the regional group have reported more than 1000 stories on WASH issues.

The members of the regional group, through their stories, suggested that the single and most important developmental challenge in South Asia is to end the sanitation and hygiene crisis, something the concerned governments had acknowledged during the 4th South Asian Conference on Sanitation.