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A loss in millions

June 04, 2013

The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank has estimated that poor sanitation and water supply results in economic losses estimated at $260 billion annually in developing countries, or 1.5 percent of their GDP. In Pakistan, the economic impacts of inadequate sanitation amount to a loss of $5.7 billion. These impacts were the equivalent of about 3.9 percent of Pakistan’s GDP.

Impacts that were considered include premature mortality, lost lives, especially those of children due to diarrhea and other diseases caused by poor sanitation; cost of healthcare incurred in treating diseases caused by poor sanitation; productivity losses, that is, productive time lost due to people falling ill; household treatment of drinking water; use of bottled water; hauling cleaner water from a distance because a nearer source of water may be contaminated due to poor sanitation; cost of additional time needed for accessing shared toilets and open-defecation sites compared to using a private toilet; and cost of school absence time due to inadequate toilets for girls and work-absence time due to inadequate toilets for working women.If the above impacts are translated and considered within the context of water and sanitation settings in Sindh, it will be found that all the impacts are applicable in their fullest form. Just take the case of Tharparkar and it will be found that a major portion of the population is suffering from diseases, due to high fluoride intake through drinking water. Elsewhere in Sindh, there are productivity losses, school absenteeism, costs incurred on medication and premature mortality due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.The Sindh government is still sleeping over the aspect of provision of safe water and sanitation in the province. The recent manifestos give no importance to sanitation and hygiene in Sindh. This is in spite of the fact that on July 28, 2010, the UN Assembly overwhelmingly agreed to a resolution declaring human rights to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. Sanitation and safe drinking water facilities must be available in all schools of Sindh as well as the rest of the country. ZOBIA WASEEM, KARACHI, June 1.


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