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Two Questions for Pakistan

This past July and August Pakistan suffered from the worst recorded floods in history. Estimates average that around 160,000 sq. km of land - of Pakistan - and 20 million lives have been affected by the monsoon floods. (BBC News, 16 Aug. 2010) The damage brought by the rains extends so far down the infrastructure ladder as to deprive millions from a basic human right and need: Access to safe water.

The intensity of the floods created the width of the Indus River to expand as much 18 miles in the Taunsa Barrage region. (BBC News, 12 Aug. 2010) The 30 km flood radius compromises all connected water systems. There are two challenges that this region faces: (1) How to deliver safe drinking water for all those in immediate need and (2) How to develop a feasible plan to rebuild new water infrastructure?

As of Wednesday, August 25, UNICEF reported that 3.5 million Pakistanis have access to only contaminated water. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 26 Aug. 2010) Relief efforts have rehabilitated some water systems, giving 1.8 million people access to safe water. Efforts have also delivered safe water to 750,000 people, however the number of people desperate for safe water grows daily. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

The expansion of the flood waters into southern Pakistan forced ten of thousands of people to evacuate their homes on Thursday, August 26. (Kaiser Family Foundation) Towns across the region are doubling in population due to the influx of refugees from nearby villages. Doctors without Borders reported that barriers allowing access to potable water has become even more of a challenge with the rising populations. They noted the town of Dera Murad Jamali as an example, where the population has risen from 50,000 to 100,000 since the floods. (Kaiser Family Foundation) Compounding this, the Pakistani  people are also suffering from water related health issues.

Lack of access to safe water carries with it additional health ramifications, such as Diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, skin diseases and acute respiratory infections. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

All of these health issues can be attributed to either lack of safe water or exposure to contaminated water. It is vital to find both short and long term solutions to deliver safe water to the Pakistani people.

What are your thoughts on the water crisis in Pakistan? Please feel free to email your ideas to Adeane@worldwatercenter.org

Data References:

“Pakistan Floods: Maps and graphics.” BBC News: South Asia. 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2010.

“Pakistan President Zardari tries to east flood anger.” BBC News: South Asia. 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2010.

“At Least 3.5M Pakistanis Have No Access To Clean Water, Raising Risk for Waterborne Diseases.” Kaiser Family Foundation: Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2010.

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