235.8 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 fifth biggest population and is rapidly urbanising, which makes reaching everyone with basic services extremely challenging.

Despite impressive progress, more than 22 million people still don't have clean water close to home, and almost a third of the population don't have a decent toilet.

Tough landscapes, from arid deserts to remote mountain ranges, combined with unsettled politics, make reaching the people most affected by poverty 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 close to home.

That's almost one in four people.

people don't have a decent toilet of their own.

That's almost a third of the population.

children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea

caused by dirty water, poor toilets and no hygiene facilities.

Cameras in the classroom

A lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities makes going to school tougher than it should be for children in Pakistan. We helped students in Sindh tell their own personal water, sanitation and hygiene stories through photography.

Ayesha Javed, 34, Interim Programme Quality, Fundraising & Communications Manager WaterAid Pakistan, during a participatory photgoraphy workshop in the village of Noor Muhammad Thaheem, Thatta, Sindh, Pakistan, July 2016

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. In the WASH club, you can.

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