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Federal Cabinet Approves National Drinking Water Policy

The Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on 28th September 2009 approved the National Drinking Water Policy, formulated by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with UNICEF to protect the public health and offset the huge environment and natural resource damage cost to Pakistan economy.

The Ministry of Environment in collaboration will coordinate implementation and monitoring of this Policy with Provincial, AJK, FANA and FATA Governments. Following the approval of the Policy, the Federal, Provincial, AJK, FANA and FATA Governments will develop comprehensive strategies and action plans for its implementation. Federal, Provincial, AJK, FANA and FATA Governments will allocate necessary funds for implementation of the Policy in line with the respective strategies and action plans. Reports on the progress of implementation of these strategies and plans will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment on bi-annual basis.

The World Bank Country Assessment Report, 2007, estimates that environment and natural resource damage costs Pakistan economy about Rs 365 billion annually. Of this, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases have been estimated to cost about Rs 112 billion per year, or over Rs 300 million a day.

The Policy aims to improve the quality of life of people of Pakistan by reducing incidence of death and illness caused by water-borne diseases through ensuring provision of adequate quantity of safe drinking water to the entire population at an affordable cost and in an equitable, efficient and sustainable manner. Towards this end, the Policy provides specific guidelines for increasing access to safe drinking water, protection and conservation of surface and groundwater resources, water treatment and safety, appropriate technologies and standardization, community participation, public awareness, capacity development, public private partnership, research and development, emergency preparedness and response and coordinated planning and implementation.

The Policy places special emphasis on establishment of new drinking water systems, rehabilitation and up-gradation of the existing water supply systems, sustainability of water supply infrastructure, water conservation, water quality improvement, water treatment and drinking water sector management information system. The Policy suggests various legislatives measures to ensure its effective implementation, including enforcement of the National Drinking Water Standards. It stipulates that the respective tiers of the government will devise strategies and action plans in pursuit of the Policy, which ensures access to safe and sustainable drinking water supply to the entire population of Pakistan by 2025

The Policy will be reviewed and updated after every five years by a committee constituted specially for the purpose of reviewing the implementation of its guidelines, their efficacy and continued relevance to the changing situation in the country.

The Policy has been formulated after extensive consultations with the stakeholders, both within and outside the Government. In this context, 24 consultative workshops were also organized. The draft Policy was shared with the line Federal Ministries/Divisions, Provincial, AJK, FATA and FANA Governments, NGOs and other partners. It was also placed on the Ministry’s website for seeking the views of the general public.

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