The Promised Water
Bold headlines in national dailies of September 21, 2005, splashed the government’s commitment to provide clean drinking water across the country by 2007. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz headed a committee to ensure implementation of this plan. The newspapers of September 29, 2009 again carried bold headlines that the Federal Cabinet had approved the new national drinking water policy meant to ensure clean drinking water to all Pakistanis by 2025. Each new ad extended the date for project completion.
Rs. 2 billion of our money has gone into this project, and more will almost certainly be poured in. We are not any closer to the promised clean drinking water – the scheme a big sham. The Ministry of Environment lacks the understanding, motivation and skills to solve this serious issue.
In addition, the ministry is grossly strapped for funds. It however keeps holding seminars in the most expensive hotels – the next one, “Launching of National Drinking Water Policy and Strategies Development” is in a 5-star hotel [Serena] in Islamabad on March 22. The day-long seminar – with out-of-town participants will be accommodated overnight — will consume huge sums of money from UNICEF funds on sumptuous food served with bottled water.
Top NGOs and government outfits seem afflicted with the same disease: use donor and aid money for such wasteful exercises. If only the Ministry stopped using donor money and started thinking clearly, it would see that there are appropriate, low cost indigenous solutions available needed to fulfil the promise. This will however only happen once Pakistan refuses ‘poisoned aid’ that encourages such waste.
18 March 2010