Inadequate sanitation costs Pakistan Rs.343.7 bln
ISLAMABAD: Inadequate sanitation causes Pakistan economic losses totaling $ 5.7 (Rs.343.7) billion each year which is equivalent to 3.9 per cent of the country’s GDP, said report of Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).
The report, “The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in Pakistan” launched here Thursday by WSP is based on evidence on the adverse economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, which include costs associated with death and disease, accessing and treating water and losses in education, productivity and time due to sanitation issues.
The report shows that the largest share of losses is due to premature mortality and other-related impacts of poor sanitation being Rs.299.6 billion ($ 4.9 bln) amounting to 87.2 per cent of the total economic cost. This includes costs related to premature mortality, productivity loss due to illness and cost of treatment.
The water related economic cost is estimated as Rs.16 billion ($262.7 million) which includes costs related to bottle water, household treatment and pipe water cost due to sanitation.
The report also estimates welfare costs of Rs.22.8 billion ($374.4 million) which includes time loss for defecating in the region.
The report underlines that substantial investments are needed to improve sanitation.
Sanitation needs to be given priority treatment at all administrative levels -local, provincial and national. Investment should also be made to build moderately improved and hygienic latrines in both urban and rural areas.
The report shows that sanitation and hygiene related improvements will reduce premature deaths and morbidity, limit domestic water related costs, reduce absenteeism at schools and workplaces and improve welfare and productivity.
Speaking on the occasion, World Bank Country Director Rachid Benmessaoud said that the total amount of the losses caused by poor sanitation in the country is seven times higher than the national health budget and 3.5 times higher than the education budget.
“These figures have caught the attention of policy-makers and Pakistan has already started the development of federal and provincial policies,” he added.
He said in Pakistan, diarrhea is the largest contributor to health related economic impacts resulting from poor sanitation, amounting to almost two-third of the total health related impact. Diarrhea among children under five accounts for Rs.121.5 billion amounting to 40.5 per cent of all health related economic impacts, he added.
Regional Team leader WSP Christopher Juan Costain said that similar studies carried out in East Asia, Africa and elsewhere in South Asia indicated annual per capita losses of $ 28.6 in Indonesia, $ 29.6 in Bangladesh and $ 20 in Nigeria. “Pakistan’s loss per capita is Rs.2.160”, he added.
Secretary Ministry of Disaster Management Muhammad Javed Malik said stressed the need to create awareness among the masses about better sanitation and also called for collective efforts to deal with the issue effectively.
It is pertinent to mention here that the report has already been launched in 8 other countries in South and East Asia and helps to serve needs of those who make decisions about resource allocation, technical expertise and advocacy needs to improve the sanitation sector.