Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) in collaboration with Water Aid Pakistan, conducted a two-day National consultative workshop on the theme of “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for everyone” from September 29-30, 2020, at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The Honourable Members of the National Parliament and four Provincial Assemblies participated in the workshop.
The goal of the workshop was to assist the Parliamentarians in acquiring knowledge about right to WASH with reference to relevant national and international instruments and develop understanding of their role as legislators in securing water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone so as to come up with a way forward to endorse this initiative.
The programme formally commenced with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran which particularly highlighted the blessing of clean drinking water to mankind. Director General, Parliamentary Development Programme and IT, PIPS, Ms. Samer Awais, moderated the inaugural session whereby she informed the participants about the various fresh water resources bestowed to Pakistan and how the country might experience acute water shortage by 2025 if fresh water reservoirs were not adequately conserved. She further stressed on the importance of safe access to clean drinking water with relevance to health implications and informed how PIPS has assisted legislators in this regard.
Mr. Muhammad Anwar, Executive Director, PIPS, formally welcomed the workshop participants and discussed the role of increasing population towards exploitation of water resources in Pakistan in his welcome address. He emphasized on the need for house treatment of waste water for nonconventional purposes such as car and garage washing, lawn watering etc. While discussing the inadequate availability of clean drinking water and hygiene practices in rural and suburb regions, Mr. Anwar pointed out the need to realize personal responsibility in this regard. Country Director-WaterAid, Mr. Siddiq Ahmed Khan, in his welcome remarks thanked the Honourable Members for showing utmost interest in the issue of WASH and explained what role legislators could play to address this issue.
Minister of State for Climate Change, Honourable Ms. Zartaj Gul graced the occasion as Guest of Honour and shared her experience in relation to the pertinent issue of WASH. Citing the impact of lack of access to proper sanitation facilities on the health and wellbeing of children and particularly women, she highlighted the connection between violent crimes against women and children and open defecation. While discussing the government’s initiatives to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, she spoke about Prime Minister’s Vision of “Clean and Green Pakistan” and the accomplishments made under that vision. She also shed light on the improvements made in the provision of basic services since the launching of “Citizen’s Portal”. While mentioning the success of official ban on plastic bags in Islamabad, Ms. Zartaj Gul suggested that robust legislation pertaining to the issue of WASH needed to be put into practice.
The inaugural ceremony was embellished by Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser, who in particular spoke about the initiatives undertaken in various rural areas pertaining to the subject of education, health and water, under his guidance. He also shared with the audience the results achieved by installing small water dams at various places to raise water levels and for sustainable water storage and usage. Lastly he mentioned that sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in health centers and schools was an emerging challenge especially for marginalized community which needed to be addressed to meet the SDGs targets.
Afterwards, focused session on the theme of water, sanitation and hygiene was conducted whereby the participants were briefed about the status and social implications of WASH in Pakistan by technical experts namely Mr. Siddiq Ahmed Khan, Country Director, WaterAid Pakistan, Mr. Farhan Sami, Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, World Bank and Mr. Kamran Naeem, WASH Specialist, UNICEF. Thereafter, participants were informed about Policy and Legislative framework of WASH in Pakistan by Ms. Fatima Bukhari, CEO Musavi. Executive Director, PIPS, Mr. Muhammad Anwar facilitated the last session of the day in which he discussed the role of Parliament in effective scrutiny and oversight.
Day 2 of the workshop focused upon developing a coordination mechanism and a way forward to successfully achieve Water Sanitation and Hygiene for everyone. The session was facilitated by Director General, Parliamentary Development Programme and IT, PIPS, Ms. Samer Awais and Head of Policy and Advocacy, WaterAid, Mr. Niaz Ahmed. Meanwhile, Members were also briefed about the concept of “Female friendly washrooms” by experts from WaterAid. Professor, Dr. Sher Jamal from National University of Science and Technology (NUST) was next to speak who conducted a session on “Promoting Technology Innovations for WASH” and emphasized on linking academic research with finding indigenous solutions for the citizens of Pakistan. The event concluded with the tour to Saidpur Decentralized Sewage Water Treatment Plant where participants had the opportunity to observe and learn about the working of treatment plant. The concluding ceremony was graced by Honourable Member and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on affairs of Capital Development Authority, Mr. Ali Nawaz Awan, who thanked participants for their interest in an issue close to every elected representative’s heart.