Quetta:The year 2025 has been marked as the year when Pakistan might turn from a “water-stressed” country to a “water-scarce” country. With a five-fold increase in Pakistan’s population since 1960, and with the current 30-day water storage capacity, some 207 million people will face ‘absolute scarcity’ of water, with less than 500 cubic meters available per person by 2025.
Balochistan is one of Pakistan’s water-starved provinces. Over the past decade or so, recurring droughts have caused intractable challenges with regards to water availability in Balochistan. Quetta, the only metropolitan city in Balochistan, has a severe water shortage problem and faces immense challenges in terms of water availability. Water supply in the city has decreased significantly due to reduction in supply from water reservoirs and ground water depletion. Extensive and unregulated usage of ground water for household and commercial purposes is another problem.
In addition to the dwindling supply, water scarcity is also attributed to over-consumption. It is evident that people waste water due to its low monetary value and limited regulations that prevent wasteful use of water. Based on the findings of a recent survey, a service station uses about 19,000 liters of water per day. A standard car uses about 80 liters of water per wash, which directly leads to water wastage. Having said that, a water recycling plant at a service station can help conserve up to 60-70% of water for re-use. UNDP has developed an indigenous and cost-effective water recycling prototype which recycles up to 5000 liters of water per day per station. Our wastewater recycling plant is an automated single structure. Using simple techniques that involve sedimentation in underground tanks and using chemical and biological treatments, the plant recycles water on-site.
UNDP jointly with private sector partners has designed and installed two of these water recycling plants in Quetta. The newly installed water recycling plants, a maiden initiative in the province, is an extension of UNDPs ongoing efforts to promote conservation and re-use of water in different sectors of the economy.
According to Mr. Eijaz, Manager of Byco service station in Quetta, the recycling plant has proven to be effective and successful in creating a new and reliable water supply. He further added, “In the past, we used to purchase water tankers every alternate day, but not anymore.” He was pleased that this water was now also being utilized for watering plants.
Customers at the service station also feel good that they are contributing in water recycling and not wasting water. According to Ms. Saima, a local from Quetta, "This initiative is of immense significance as we will never know the importance of water till it dries up completely; a horrific situation already confronted by local communities."
To prevent a terrible scarcity of water from becoming a reality, concerted efforts and novel methods must be devised. This prototype may be the first step in that direction. These efforts need to be complemented by policy actions by municipal authorities to make water recycling mandatory and by extending support to service stations to mobilize resources to install recycling plants through developing financial products. Let us hope that there would be other initiatives of a similar nature to secure the future of the country.
Islamabad: A project launch ceremony was held in Peshawar where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve girl’s access to quality education in Kurram and Orakzai districts. Funded by the Global Affairs Canada, this CDN $7 million project is jointly implemented by the UNDP, United Nation International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Department of KP.
The three-year project complements the Government’s Accelerated Implementation Plan (AIP) for the merged districts and will provide three tier support to the education department, community and students to ensure equitable access to safe and quality education for around 14,000 students, primarily focused on adolescent girls.
The project will rehabilitate 100 partially damaged schools and provide essential school supplies and furniture to promote conducive learning environment for the children. It will also train over 300 teachers for student-centred and gender-responsive teaching practices. Furthermore, around 155 Parents-Teacher Associations and mothers’ groups will also be formed and trained to promote and monitor girls' access to education.
Enrolment and retention campaigns to raise awareness on the importance and value of girls’ education will be carried out while health and hygiene awareness sessions are also planned, followed by distribution of dignity kits containing sanitary items for adolescent girls students in 155 schools of Kurram and Orakzai districts.
In his introductory remarks Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative (a.i) of UNDP Pakistan said, “Education is the first step to breaking the poverty cycle. Future of the merged districts is dependent on harnessing the potential of its young bulge through formal and informal education. UNDP’s Stabilization and Development Programme has assisted over 800,000 individuals (almost 50% of which are women), since its inception in 2015.”
During her speech, Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, said: “Every girl and boy in Pakistan has the right to quality education, starting with the most disadvantaged. This program, led by the Government with support from Global Affairs Canada, will help adolescent girls and boys overcome the barriers to education, skills-development and economic empowerment which they face in their daily lives. Together we must continue to work to make sure that adolescent girls can learn. Enrolling girls in school will help unlock lifelong opportunities and contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Newly Merged Districts.”
While speaking on this occasion, Mr. Christopher Khng, Head of Aid/Development Cooperation from the High Commission of Canada in Pakistan said” The education initiative that we are launching today is good demonstration of how, together, we are working to educate and empower children especially girls and young women, and assisting Pakistan in achieving the SDG 4.”
Addressing the ceremony, the chief guest Mr. Akbar Ayub Khan, Education Minister, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa thanked the Government of Canada and its people for their support and said “The overall girl’s enrolment in the newly merged districts is 33%, which is very low as compared to rest of the province. Government of KP is committed to improve the situation by taking various measures. We will carry out campaigns to promote and increase girls’ enrolment. The hiring of 35,000 new teachers for settle and merged districts will be completed by 30th May 2020, and another 65,000 teachers will be hired within next two years. We are starting induction and training programme for newly hired teachers to build and enhance their class management skills. We are also planning to digitalize education department to facilitate masses and promote paperless environment.”