WaterAid is working with members of provincial parliaments in Punjab and Sindh to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in their respective provinces.
The initiative envisages to formulate multi-party groups of parliamentarians; these groups will be provided technical support and evidence for strengthening policy-making and effective leadership so that the parliamentarians contribute and monitor the WASH sector performance as well as facilitate actions by the relevant Provincial Departments.
WASH has become a major governance issue across Pakistan during the last few years. Pakistan made good progress in increasing access to improved drinking water during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) period (2000-2015). Pakistan was among those countries who achieved its MDG for sanitation.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of people practising open defecation reduced from 39% to 12%, access to improved sanitation increased from 35% to 73%. Currently, as much as 21 million Pakistanis lack access to clean drinking water, 79 million remain without access to at least basic sanitation.
However, rising population, rapid urbanisation and climate change are making it difficult to sustain gains in the WASH sector as well as threatening the coverage in new areas. Access to water and sanitation is a human right. This human right is in itself essential for life and dignity, but it is also the foundation for achieving other human rights, including the right to health and the right to development. It is also fundamental to a healthier, safer society.
The human right to water and sanitation was explicitly recognised in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. Since 92 countries have guaranteed the right to water and sanitation within their constitution. Pakistan is yet to provide explicit constitutional provision for the right to safe water and decent sanitation.
What do we want to achieve?
The overall objective of the programme is to proactively engage legislators/ opinion leaders to facilitate policy-making and legislation for securing WASH as a fundamental right and enhancing their capability to influence WASH planning and oversight. The project will include advocating a progressive rise in sector financing in addition to legislative work to promote and protect the sustainable provision of WASH services in Sindh and Punjab.
How parliamentarians contribute to the programme?
- We provide support to the Parliamentarians with research, knowledge and training, enabling them to table resolutions, raising questions seeking answers and engaging in parliamentary debates on WASH issues.
- We facilitate technical support for the parliamentarians to undertake policy and legislative review and demonstrate leadership within the Parliament, on media and with WASH sectors partners.
- We promote coordination and synergies among the parliamentary WASH Core groups, relevant provincial departments, and WASH sector partners.
- We provide exposure visits and executive training sessions for the parliamentarians to enhance the quality of decision making and its implementation.
- We work closely with District Governments to raise their capacity on WASH planning and management.
- We engage Local Government representatives to mobilise and sensitise them on their role as desired for redress of WASH issues at the district level.
- We also invite youth participation by increasing their awareness and encouraging them to play their role for WASH rights.
What are the major activities?
- Orientation programmes for the new parliaments in Punjab and Sindh • Formation of WASH core groups and enhancing legislative, technical and oversight capabilities.
- Orientation of the parliamentarians on the provincial WASH situation, national frameworks and international commitments.
- Formulation of advocacy plan to use parliamentary provisions to improve the policy and practice of WASH in the province.
- Exposure visits, media appearances and national/ international speaking opportunities for the members of the core groups.
- Holding budget process orientation sessions and preparation of budgetary proposals for the members.
- Standings committees will be assisted for conducting public hearings and reviewing WASH sector performance.