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 square kilometers (79,284 sq. mi). Punjab consists of five city districts, 36 districts, 144 tehsils, 3,464 union councils and 25,914 villages.

It is the most populous province of Pakistan, which is inhabited by 98 million people. It is home to 56 per cent of the total population of Pakistan. Of the 98 million people living in the province, 38 per cent (37 million) live in urban and 62 per cent (61 million) in rural areas while as per gender ratio, 48 per cent are females and 52 per cent are males.

Government of the Punjab has made substantial efforts to improve water and sanitation in the province in last decades, but a lot remains to be done especially in the provision of sanitation and safe drinking water.

According to Pakistan Social Living Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2012-2013, 100 per cent population of Punjab has access to drinking water from a variety of sources, including tap water 13 per cent, 38 per cent hand pump, 43 per cent motor pump, 2 per cent, dug well & 4 per cent from other sources.

Access to tap water is very low in rural areas – 13 per cent in rural areas as compared to 43 per cent in urban areas of Punjab. While coverage of water supply through improved water sources has increased, quality of drinking water remains substandard as the major sources are hand pumps and turbines supplying contaminated or brackish water.

Piped water supply is also prone to different types of contamination due to worn-out pipes. Access to safe drinking water is regarded as the proportion of people using improved drinking water sources; household connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs and rainwater.

A study conducted by Babar Chohan in 2007 suggests that Rs.101 billion are being spent because of either direct or indirect implications of water-borne diseases in Punjab province. Moreover, annual cost under the head of averting expenditures, in lieu of bottled water and boiled water, has been estimated at Rs.2.4 billion.

The study finds that all but the poorest of the poor are willing to pay (a small amount) for clean water. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) financed $ 50 million Punjab Community Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, which was active in rural areas in all districts of 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.  Community-based organizations maintained and operated these schemes and charged users. Tehsil municipal administrations were strengthened and imparted training. In addition, communities received training in health and hygiene practices.