National Urban Sanitation Workshop in Islamabad

Co-hosted by Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) and UNICEF, with extensive support from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the National Urban Sanitation Workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan, was a first step in promoting South-South cooperation to meet urban sanitation challenges.

Islamabad, Pakistan, 5-7 December 2022 - Over 100 representatives from national and international organizations and development partners participated in the inaugural session of the National Urban Sanitation Workshop to deliberate issues related to urban sanitation.

Co-hosted by Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) and UNICEF, with extensive support from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the workshop was a first step in promoting South-South cooperation to meet urban sanitation challenges.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the urban sanitation stakeholders to discuss solutions, share experiences, and develop joint action plans for addressing Pakistan`s urban sanitation challenges.

The workshop brought together IsDB member countries with relevant experience in urban sanitation to mutually learn and share with Pakistan’s urban sanitation stakeholders. Water and Sanitation Service providers from major cities of Pakistan, Provincial Planning & Development, Public Health Engineering, and Local Government Department representatives participated in the workshop. Other participants included representatives from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, JICA, KOICA, AfD, UNHABITAT, Unilever, private sector operators of FSM, NUST, UET Peshawar, WAP, AHKT and AHKF.

Also, in attendance were Federal Government participants from the Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan Environment Protection Authority, Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Participants discussed the key challenges that urban sanitation systems in Pakistan are facing. They shared their viewpoints to formulate recommendations for addressing the challenges.

Based on the recommendations, action planning by each stakeholder was envisaged on the last day of the workshop, followed by a site visit to decentralized solid and liquid waste management facilities in Islamabad. This 3-day capacity sharing event was the first of the two modules of the workshop planned. The second module will eventually focus on discussions on project identification and a more detailed analysis of financing and investment mechanisms, and a detailed mapping of potential donors, innovative financing opportunities, and the potential for public-private collaboration in the urban sanitation sector of Pakistan.

In her welcome remarks, Ms. Sana Rusool, Director of Environment, Ministry of Climate Change said that the unprecedented and devastating floods of 2022 left some serious adverse effects on sanitation issues which is why this workshop was a very crucial step in bringing together all key stakeholders to deliberate upon urban sanitation, its challenges, and opportunities.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Inoussa Kabore, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Pakistan, highlighted that urban sanitation is at the center of UNICEF’s WASH programming in its next country program. “As part of the overall UN cooperation framework with the government of Pakistan, UNICEF leads the social services pillar and access to sanitation is one of the priorities. I, therefore, want to reiterate our commitment and support to the government as it seeks to accelerate the provision of safely managed, equitable, and climate-resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene services targeting the vulnerable and marginalized, children and women,” he said.

Mr. Hammad Hundal, Officer in Charge, IsDB Group Regional Hub Turkiye, said in his opening remarks that the Islamic Development Bank was committed to supporting its member countries to achieve their national SDG targets. “IsDB has allocated US$8 billion so far for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene sector. We seek to expand our collaborations in Pakistan for boosting recovery, tackling poverty, building resilience, and driving green economic growth as per IsDB’s strategy. I foresee this workshop would be a stepping stone to discussing and planning actions for addressing urban sanitation challenges in Pakistan”.

In her inaugural address, Dr. Saima Shafique, Director of MoCC on behalf of the Ministry, said that “the importance of clean water and sanitation for human development cannot be denied, as it reduces income poverty and child mortality, breaks life-cycle disadvantages and enhances female education”. She further expressed hope that partners like UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank will bring more technical expertise and financing in the urban sanitation sector to resolve some of the issues that the workshop aimed to discuss over the next two days. Dr. Saima concluded her remarks with a commitment that the ministry will work closely with the provincial governments, and public and private operators, and create an enabling environment so that the development sector and private sector partners, along with civil society, academia, and other stakeholders can contribute to their optimum potential.

Pakistan made significant sanitation progress in the last decade in 2020. In urban areas, basic sanitation coverage is 82 percent, however, data on safely managed sanitation is not available. Effluent from some sanitation facilities in both rural and urban areas is left untreated and finds its way into some dysfunctional wastewater treatment plants.

The lack of safely managed sanitation systems in the country has led to the contamination of most drinking water sources. Despite 92.6 percent of people having access to improved water sources, only 36 percent of households have access to safely managed water.

The sanitation situation in Pakistan is exacerbated by the recent floods which destroyed water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities.

Over 5.4 million people (16%) of the 33 million people in flood-affected 84 districts have moved from the use of protected to unprotected drinking water sources, and 6.3 million people (19%) lost household sanitation with an estimated 950,000 household latrines.