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    Sanitation challenges of rapid urbanization demands proactive approach, proper planning

    Sanitation challenges of rapid urbanization demands proactive approach, proper planning

    PESHAWAR (APP): Sanitation problems are regarded as worst nightmare associated with rapid and exponential growth of population that has affected every segment of life including water, environment, health and education sectors enormously.

    Rapid population growth is considered as rootcause of sanitation problems around the globe putting service delivery system under permanent stress and making lives of millions of people miserable in slums towns and poor suburban areas of almost all major cities including Pakistan.  

    Besides others, urbanization is causing several governance challenges in big cities including housing, employment, sanitation and sewerage system that demands proactive approach realizing seriousness of problems, which are growing difficult with each passing day making the lives of mega city dwellers including Peshawar very difficult.

    A visitor might have been unnerved after inhaling the bad water and garbage smell of drainage channels while moving in Peshawar’s interior areas including Kohati, Gunj, Khalasa, Hazarkhwani, Lateefabad and Faqirabad.

    “The sanitation services in these areas are very poor with bad smell eminating from uncovered drainage channels since long that has exposed residents to different health ailments and need to be addressed on priority basis,” said Haseeb Khan, a social worker and resident of Kohati Peshawar while talking to APP.

    He said Peshawarties of these localities were further exposed to unhealthy drinking water due to leakage of rusted water pipes besides waterborne diseases.

    He said although the governments are spending huge funds to address sanitation and related issues posed by rapid urbanization and population growth, but a lot of work was still required to provide safe drinking water and immediate replacement of leakage water pipes to avert health hazards.

    He said the situation is still grim due to persistent growth of population ratio and movement of people from rural areas towards major cities that are already facing countless problems due to overpopulation including sanitation.

    “Our problems and working has become hard due to increased urbanization in provincial metropolis as people are continuously migrating to various localities of the city for better economic and  social services,” said Kaka Masih, a sanitation worker while talking to APP. 

    He added that various other challenges including shortage of sanitary workers, vehicles, equipment and waste dumping sites have also aggrevated the issue.

    “The excessive population has not only increased workload on sanitation workers but also increased their problems due to low wages,” he said, adding unplanned infrastructure in major cities including Peshawar, Mardan and Abbottabad was incompatible to the mass urbanization leading to further overburdening the task of sanitation staff.

    Professor Dr Naeemur Rehman Khattak, former Chairman Economics Department, University of Peshawar said that sanitation services of most of our cities including Peshawar were unfit to absorb the increasing load of migrants.

    During 1951 to 2017, he said that urban share of the country’s population has increased by about 33 million which means that 14.5 million people migrated from villages to cities with nearly 750,000 per year increase, thus exerted extra presure on education, healthcare and sanitation services in Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta and other cities of Pakistan.

    Dr Naeem Khattak said that rural-urban migration was recorded highest in Punjab (6pc) followed by KP (4pc), Sindh (3pc) and Balochistan (2pc) during the said period.

    Islamabad has witnesed highest proportion of migrants ie 36 percent followed by Lahore (15pc) and Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar are registered about 12pc respectively.

    He said that urban sanitization has a pivotal role to achieve sustainable development goals relating to sanitation facilities in urban areas but it requires radical shift in mindsets and practices towards an urban sanitation approach including political priorities, funding, planning, design, management and good governance governance. 

    Dr Liaqat Ali, a medical professional while talking to APP said that poor sanitation increases risks of fatal diseases including cholera, diarrhea, typhoid and polio.

    He said in next fifteen years about 55 percent of population would shift to urban areas, and the lack of inadequate sanitation conditions can have significant impacts on healthcare services.

    He underscored the need of proper planning and diversion of financial resources to sanitation services in the wake of population explosion.

    He opined that capacity building of saniatory staff at local or municipality level would help operate and maintain sewerage systems viz a viz installation of wastewater treatment plants can also be helpful to combat sanitation challenges.

    The organizations relating to sanitation system may be restructured and improved.

    ‘Sanitation services mostly in informal settlements are affected due to construction of unplanned large buildings and other infrastructure overburdened by unchecked urbanization thanks to overpopulation, said Hassan Khan, spokesperson for Water and Sanitation Services Company (WSSP).

    He said the phenomenon is not new in Peshawar as each and every mega city is almost confronted with sanitation challenges. 

    The WSSP spokesman said work on 12-year Municipal Services Program of USD 44.6 million with assistance of USAID were recently completed underwhich nearly 20 lakh residents of Peshawar were provided access to clean drinking water, waste management, and improved sanitation services.

    Under the project, he said that 140 clean drinking water facilities serving 448,000 people, replacement of 25,700 meters of old and rusted water mains, ensuring clean, reliable water supply in 21 union councils, rehabilitated sewerage and drainage lines, which improve sanitation for 1.7 million people, more efficient solid waste collection and disposal besides improved municipal waste management services, including 575 vehicles and the establishment of a repair and maintenance workshop for waste management equipment were achieved benefiting nearly two million residents of Peshawar.

    The spokesman said that monster problem cannot be addressed unless awareness was created among people about ill effects of poor sanitation and urging them to play collective role to avoid littering and habits that exacerbate sanitation issues.

    He added that sanitation conditions can also be improved by changing mindset of people and make them realize their civic responsibilities as member of society.

    For this purpose, he reiterated proactive role of media, civil society and religious scholars to make the planet worth living.


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