189 million

Pakistan sits at the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East, a geographically and culturally diverse nation with fast-growing power and influence.

It has the world’s sixth biggest population and is rapidly urbanising, which makes reaching everyone with basic services extremely challenging.

Pakistan is one of the top five countries worldwide in improving access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. But despite this impressive progress, 22 million people still have no choice but to drink dirty water, and more than two in five people don’t have a decent toilet.

Tough landscapes, from arid deserts to remote mountain ranges, combined with unsettled politics make reaching the poorest people difficult. People are moving to towns faster than in any other South Asian country, straining already limited services. Add in natural disasters like floods, and the obstacles are substantial.

But we are tackling these challenges, and making water, toilets and hygiene a normal part of daily life. We are supporting local communities with the tools they need to claim their rights to basic services. We are helping the Government, our local partners, and service providers build facilities that will withstand disasters, so improvements will last whatever the future holds.

We are showing communities the important links between health and good hygiene practices such as handwashing, and encouraging them to build and use proper toilets. And we are working with schools and the media to spread these messages as widely as possible.

Together we can challenge conventional thinking, inspire action and build the momentum needed to change lives for good.

people don't have clean water.

Many live in hard-to-reach areas.

people don't have a decent toilet.

That's more than 2 in every 5 people.

children under 5 die each year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

Tackling shame in schools

Image: WaterAid/Sibtain Haider
During sessions at school, I found out about healthy and hygienic ways to manage my period. I was hesitant to ask questions at first, but during follow-up sessions, I started asking them to explain some of the myths which are prevalent in our community.
Ramsha, 13, Punjab province

As a member of her school WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) club, 13-year-old Ramsha learns about what periods are and how to safely manage them.

Periods are nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about. But in Pakistan, cultural and religious taboos and myths turn menstruation into something secret and negative. Ramsha and her fellow pupils used to feel too shy to ask even their friends, teachers or relatives about them.

Ramsha used to use cloths and, following her mother’s advice, avoided bathing during her period. “We are so secretive about periods, I was reluctant to ask anyone about it,” she said.  

Without knowledge of how to safely manage their periods, or access to sanitary materials and decent toilets to change them in, girls could not keep clean. They would often stay home to avoid discomfort or being teased for showing a blood stain.

To solve a problem, you need to be able to talk about it. And in the WASH club, you can.  


Cameras in the classroom

Water scarcity and climate change make going to school tougher than it should be for children in the Indus Delta. We helped students in the province of Thatta tell their own personal water stories through photography.


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