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Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan calls for prioritizing water management as top political agenda at global level

Islamabad, April 15, 2015 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, says efficient management of the rapidly depleting freshwater resources across the world, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan is inevitable for achieving socio-economic sustainable development goals.

“Shortages of water and sanitation persist across the world. However, governments throughout the world, particularly those of the developing countries need to secure and conserve clean and safe water resources while protecting their citizens against climate change-induced water-related disasters,” the minister said during his address to a high-level international ministerial session on April 14 on the sidelines of the 7th Global Water Forum (7th WWF).

Being held in Daegu city in South Korea under the theme ‘Water for Our Future’, this year from April 12 to April 17, the 7th WWF is a global event organised every three years by the World Water Council (WWC) in collaboration with the authorities of the host country, with core aim of coping with growing global water challenges collectively.

WWC is an international organization consisting of water-related organisations, governments and international organisations. It was founded in 1996 to provide a forum for global water issues. Academics, research institutions, enterprises, professional networks, governments and policy-makers, NGOs, media, as well as representatives from various fields such as agriculture, food or energy from over 170 countries attend the event.

The Pakistani delegation, headed by the Senator Mushahid Ullah khan is attending the global event. The delegation also joined the world water community at the 7thWWF in welcoming the anticipated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water and sanitation and other water-related targets in the SDGs for the next 15 year period, following the Millennium Development Goals, to be adopted in September 2015 at the United Nations General Assembly.

Quoting UNICEF data, the Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan highlighted during his address that nearly 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water (Around one in nine people) and diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking water and bad sanitation causes an estimated 842,000 [avoidable] deaths every year globally (some 2,300 people per day).

A significant portion of 180 million population in Pakistan is still without adequate clean drinking water and safe sanitation facilities. However, the present government is making all-out efforts improve the grim situation of water and sanitation coverage in the country in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, he added.

“Water issues are no more matters of a single country or region, rather these are global issue. However, tackling the issue of growing water shortage requires global solidarity and joint counter-measures,” he stressed and cautioned the global water community that failing to do so will only jeopardise initiatives in diffident countries including Pakistan being taken for achieving sustainable development goals.

Tackling water challenges has become a global topic for the 21st century. Besides, water issues have been political issues in many nations including Pakistan. Therefore, it is hoped that interested parties (governments, the academic world, private organizations and interest groups) will strive to find viable solutions [at this 7th WWF] to cope with global water challenges.

During his address, the minister also drew attention of the global water community’s attention towards the water crisis in Pakistan, which is aggravating rapidly due to climate change. Highlighting the present Pakistani government’s sensitivity towards water, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan told the participants of the ministerial session, “The present government of Pakistan has prioritised water conservation as top political agenda and central to the water, food and energy security in the country.”

He also informed the participants that United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) declared Pakistan a water-scarce country in 1992 for per capita water availability at 1,700 cubic meter. By 2003, the country’s per capita availability of water declined to the extent that it was ranked as a water-scarce country by the World Bank, surpassing Ethiopia and on par with African countries such as Libya and Algeria, Mushahid Ullah Khan said in his statement.

“Though the country’s present per capita water availability is below 1,000 cubic meter, based on current projections, the per capita water availability will plunge further below 850 cubic meter by the year 2020, which is likely to pose grave risk to government efforts meant for achieving water, food and energy security,” Khan highlighted.

According to the ADB, Pakistan’s storage capacity, the amount of water it has on reserve in case of an emergency, is limited to a 30-day supply — far below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with similar climates. Without meaningful action, a water crisis could push the country into further chaos.

“I will, however, urge upon the global community for technology transfer, exchange of technical know-how and launch of capacity-building among each other and joint research and development programmes for tackling common water-related issues and boosting efficiency in application of water at all levels, mainly agriculture, industry and domestic,” he said.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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