44% of Pakistani people have no access to clean, usable water resources.
Annually, 250 million people face water-related healthcare issues all over the world and amongst them, 20 million succumb to their illnesses. Pakistan ranks at number 80 among 122 nations in the index of provision of hygienic drinking water – which means 44% of Pakistani people have no access to clean, usable water resources.
This should make a lot of people lose their sleep at night, especially the powers that be – however, it doesn’t seem to be the case right now.
We have failed to provide a great proportion of our people with safe drinking water. And the people who do have that privilege have stopped getting their supply of clean water due to reservoir shortages. The recent shortage in Karachi is a case in point.
Karachiites have been facing a constant, and unnerving, shortage of water in many areas of the city, and a lot of people – those who can afford it, anyway – have resorted to employing the services of water tankers at their homes to get some respite. This has led to strengthening of the water-tanker mafia, which is ripping off thousands of rupees per visit from every household.
For me, the irony is that Karachi is just a few kilometres away from the Arabian Sea – yet its citizens are deprived of such a basic commodity. Why is that? Not because the water from the sea is unusable. It’s because our authorities and lawmakers are too inept and too careless to install even a single portable water facility in Karachi.
But the incompetence of our authorities has been at play for a very long time. Even before this crisis, the water that Karachiites used to get from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) was too contaminated for drinking or washing. This is because most of the water pipelines have either outlived their lives or were not laid down following proper SOPs initially. Either way, most of the pipelines have leakages and are mostly placed side by side with the sewerage system – where chances of contamination are pretty high.
However, one cannot just blame KWSB for this conundrum. This situation is everyone’s responsibility. If we see how Karachi has been governed in the last decade, we will have some answers as to why the city is on the verge of an infrastructural collapse.
In recent years, especially after 2008, we have seen Karachi’s political economy get plunged into shambles and uncertainty; at the same time, there have been prominent development projects sprouting in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan. One wonders if there is a correlation between these incidents. Karachi has largely fallen prey to people whose major main is territorial power. They have not done anything to build Karachi for the better. This city’s stakeholders had enough time to pull out mega projects, create better infrastructure and create employment opportunities – yet their only focus has been on fixing roads, shutting down the city and asking for a quota in provincial and government jobs. But mega projects like mass train transit program, food security, local policing, mega healthcare facilities and the likes have not been the primary focus of this city’s policymakers.