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Drinking Water in Pakistan


International Decade for Action, ”Water for Life”, 2005-2015

Action Plan for Improving Drinking Water

World Water Day 22nd March 2005


40-A Ramzan Plaza, G-9 Markaz, Islamabad.
Tel. 051-2261085.Fax:051-2262495
Email: mjahangir@thenetwork.org.pk


Ministerial declaration of 23rd March 2003 in Kyoto, Japan and Dushanbe Water appeal on 1st Sept, at international freshwater forum 2003; proclaims Period from 2005 to 2015 as the international decade for action “water for life”. Commencing from world water day 22nd March 2005.

Like elsewhere supply of less and poor quality drinking water available within the house is one of the major contributors to disease and death in Pakistan and developing world. This has an adverse effect on the quality of life, like disease and death burden due to cholera, diarrhoea , Typhoid, Hepatitis , Cancer and Bone Deformation to name a few.

Microbiological contamination disorders have an early effect where as chemical contamination takes longer periods for the manifestation, if present in trace amounts.

This has an adverse effect on the quality of life, like

1. Agony due to disease
2. Loss of working hours of the sick and those attending him and hence family income
3. Already malnutritioned poor develop a strong competitor for food in their bellies, in the form of worms.

This is how the need for supply of good quality drinking water becomes a strong priority issue to be resolved for our national development.

The latest development in this direction is the Local Government ordinance 2001, schedule VI section 94’s , which mentions drinking water as “wholesome water “. Wholesome is a nonspecific term and could have different meanings for different people.

We recommend defining safe drinking water as water having quality conforming to Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), Standard No. PS 1932, ICS No.13.06020 second revision.

Document in hand provides an action oriented out line for less than a decade to achieve Millennium development goal of halving the population not having access to improved drinking water by 2015.in Pakistan.


1. In Pakistan we rarely have a supply of intentional safe drinking water anywhere.

2. No laboratory has the capability to completely analyze drinking water for safety in accordance with PSQCA – Standards under one roof at an affordable cost.

3. Only about 30% population has access to piped drinking water which has been rarely completely tested for safety.

4. 70% Population is drinking water of unknown quality; the only testing comes through human consumption and/ or getting sick.

5. Getting supply of safe drinking water in accordance with PSQCA standards in one go will not be possible , so we need to settle for Improved water source* which means a source likely to provide safe water, such as house hold connection or a bore hole etc (Joint monitoring program WHO/ UNICEF)*

Strategy for improving drinking water quality

For the sake of simplicity the process of achieving the goal of access to safe and enough drinking water has been divided in three phases namely

1. Long term actions where intensive cost and determination to take practical steps is involved.

2. Short term and medium cost intensive

3. Immediate and doable where mostly, a strong determination will be a major contributor and costs will not be heavy. It will make an efficient use of existing resources vis-à-vis manpower infrastructure etc.

1. Long term

Policy Level

1.1 Local Government Ordinance 2001 Schedule VI section 94 defines this responsibility as “wholesome water “. The ordinance needs an amendment to clearly define drinking water quality in accordance with the Ministry of science and Technology Standards PSQCA No. PS 1932, ICS No.13.06020 second revision.

1.2 Water being used for making ice should also be of similar quality.

1.3 The provider of water and ice has to make a testing arrangement and circulate test results on weekly basis.

1.4 There has to be a third party quality testing by PCRWR, PCSIR, NIH or university/ medical college Lab.

1.5 No untreated sewage water/effluent to be discharged to water bodies both fresh and ground. This needs regulations by EPA, which is there in the form NEQS. Implementation will be through Local government.

Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)

1.6 Ministry of science and technology‘s PSQCA, standard No. PS 1932, ICS No.13.06020 second revision. To be upgraded to mandatory status from the present voluntary, like the version for bottled water standards.

1.7 MOST / PSQCA to issue standards for piping and plumbing material, to be used for drinking water.

1.8 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for laying of water supply and sewerage pipes need to be documented and issued.

1.9 SOPs for making septic tanks and drainage lines to be developed and implemented

2.0 Develop local technology for Sewerage and wastewater treatment. MOST can do it in collaboration with university (HEC) and EPA.
3.0 Ministry of Environment, to phase out the use of plastic shopping bags and plastic Bottles of soft drinks / Water.

Ministry of health

3.1 Planning to start a national dehelminthation program

3.2 Mass education to drink optimum (2.0-2.5 L for adults), quantity of water per person / day.

3.3 Washing hands with soap after the use of bath room

3.4 Tehsil Headquarter hospital to collect health data on water related diseases

3.5 Medical Officer at Tehsil Headquarter hospital to visit filtration plants, and send his report.

4.0 Short term and medium cost intensive measures.

4.1 Water billing to consumer should be linked to quality and
quantity of water being supplied.

Incase the water being supplied is not fit for human consumption

4.2 The water service provider should immediately share this information with the consumer and in case of nonconformance the provider will be fined Re.1 /day / person.

4.3 Provider should regularly share quantity of water being
supplied to consumer.

4.4 Appointing the most capable available staff member in the department as resident in charge of the treatment plant.

4.5 Clearly writing the job description of the supply and
distribution staff

4.6 Civic bodies supplying drinking water should arrange to take quality assurance measure at the treatment and supply sites

4.7 Documenting procedures for activities at the treatment and testing

4.8 Maintaining complete records of conformance to these procedures

Note: In writing job descriptions procedures and records, TN will provide Technical support, if needed.

Immediate actions

5.1 Appointing the most capable available staff member in the department as Resident In- charge of the treatment plant.

5.2 On the job training of water supply in charge about the Procedures of water treatment

5.3 Training of water testing lab staff about basic analytical Procedures

5.4 Providers to share with the consumer, actions being taken in case of an uncontrollable poor quality supply.

5.5 Ensuring cleaning of supply water overhead and underground reservoirs and writing date
of cleaning on the tanks.

5.6 Ensuring drinking water safety at source and encouraging consumers to hand carry this water in clean containers for drinking purpose.

Action Plan for consumers

1. Consciously ensuring that each adult drinks 2.0-2.5 Liters of water (about 10-12 Glass) and children adjust accordingly. Quantity of water needs adjustment according to temperature and profession .Players need more water

2. Saving water, not wasting.

3. Visiting and checking with the water provider the actions being taken to ensure availability of safe drinking water.

4. Consumer to insist on seeing the latest water test report with the provider

5. Ensure that domestic water storage tanks are regularly cleaned

6. In case of more than one family member suffering from water related disease, get his water
checked and start collecting water from a safe source.

7. Intermittent supply of water causes back suction of dirty water from leaking surroundings. Report leaking pipes and valve chambers.

8. Ensure that all family members wash their hands with soap after the use of bath room.