KARACHI – Despite development and progress all around us, Pakistan lags behind in proper sanitation facilities. As the world observes World Toilet Day today, millions of Pakistanis do not have access to a toilet.

Lacking access to a basic sanitary facilities, something that many Pakistanis don't think about, involves more than just embarrassment and inconvenience. It's also a significant health hazard. As per estimates over half of Pakistani women lack proper sanitation facilities, while 20 million of them don’t have a toilet at all.  “Lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods. Women and girls living in Pakistan without toilet facilities spend 3.6 billion hours each year finding a place to go in the open,” according to figures released by the WaterAid Pakistan.

“Poor hygiene has serious implications on health. Every year, over 40,000 mothers in Pakistan lose a child to diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of adequate sanitation and clean water,” said experts.

A survey commissioned by the WaterAid of women living across five slums in Lagos, Nigeria, showed that one in five had first or second hand experience of verbal harassment and intimidation, or had been threatened or physically assaulted in the last year when going to the toilet. Anecdotal evidence from communities around the world suggests that the scale of the problem may be much larger than this. Siddiq Khan, Country Representative of WaterAid Pakistan, said: “When women don’t have a safe, secure and private place to go to the toilet they are exposed and put in a vulnerable position and when they relieve themselves in the open they risk harassment. Women are reluctant to talk about it or complain, but the world cannot continue to ignore this.”

“This World Toilet Day, WaterAid is joining the call of hundreds of organizations around the world, for governments to keep the promises they have made to get adequate sanitation and safe water to the world’s poorest people”, he added.

Siddiq Khan said: “We welcome the commitments made by our Government but too many of these remain unfulfilled or off-track. Children are still missing school and still dying needlessly from disease caused by unsafe sanitation and contaminated water. To solve the sanitation and water crisis, politicians need to stick to their word and honour the commitments they have made”.

Sharing the data of access to the safe, sanitation, Wateraid studies unveiled that nearly 1 in 3 women and girls on the planet lack access to safe toilets. Besides, over 500 million women and girls that lack any toilet facilities face shame, disease, harassment and even attack because of the lack of safe sanitation in the world. The data showed that every day, around 2,000 mothers lose a child due to diarrhoea brought about through a lack of access to safe toilets and clean water.

The data showed that the Pakistan lacks of targets of providing improved sanitation to its citizens, committed under Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Under the MDGs, Pakistan had committed to 64 per cent of the population with adequate sanitation by 2015. In contrast to the commitment, only 45 per cent people use improved sanitation facilities in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 97,900 people die every year due to poor water and sanitation in Pakistan. Citing the poor water and sanitation services, data of WHO and UNICEF unveiled 54,000 children under age five in Pakistan die from diarrhoea every year.

When contacted, Mustafa Talpur, South Asia Regional Advocacy Manager at WaterAid, an international NGO working on safe drinking water and improved sanitation told The Nation that the out of the one billion people who do not use improved sanitation facilities in South Asia, 800 million live in rural areas. Seven out of every ten people living in rural areas do not use an improved sanitation facility, compared to just four in urban areas, he added.  ‘Nearly 700 million people, who do not have a toilet facility, defecate in the open in the South Asia’, said Talpur.

‘This pathetic sanitation is an affront on societies of South Asia, which required attention of the SARC governments to keep their promises to invest in delivering increased access to sanitation and water’, WaterAid’s regional manager concluded.

KESC secures A-rating from Global Reporting Initiative : Karachi Electric Supply Company has secured a level A rating from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for its Integrated Sustainability Report for the year 2012. This makes KESC the first power utility in Pakistan to achieve such rating for an integrated report. This rating also places KESC as one of the very few organizations globally that have been rated A by GRI in the very first attempt, a KESC release said.

In keeping with international best practice, KESC’s integrated sustainability report provides depth and context to the groups performance and identifies how sustainability is central to the utility’s culture and business.

KESC is the first public utility in Pakistan to comply with GRI sustainability reporting standards G3.1. The award is recognition of KESC?s commitment to embedding sustainability management into its business and adopting global best practice environmental, social and governance principles (ESG). KESC’s sustainability policy is underpinned by long-term economic, social and environmental value creation that is driven by a wide ranging stakeholder engagement strategy.

 As the sole provider of power to the largest metropolis of the country, serving 20 million consumers, KESC acknowledges that its own sustainability is fundamentally linked to economic, social and environmental value creation, it said.

Announcing the award, Tabish Gauhar, Chief Executive of KESC said, “We are very pleased to publish our first integrated sustainability report and receive an A rating from a globally recognized institution.”

This report has provided depth and context to our performance and identified how a 360 degree approach to sustainable value creation is core to our operations.

KESC has developed a 360 value creation model that places greater focus on building strong ties with all its key stakeholder groups. The program, KESC Stakeholder Engagement & Enrichment Drives for Sustainability (SEEDS), ensures that community goals set by KESC work in harmony with the financial objectives of the organization. SEEDS essentially drive four distinct programmes: ESG Initiatives, Social Investments, Stakeholder Engagement & Thought Leadership.

Over the past 4 years, one of the key areas of focus for KESC has been to reduce the line losses that have been plaguing the power utility. The figure was at a staggering 39% when the current management had taken over and has now been brought down to 29%. Major industrial zones of the city have been exempted from any and all power losses, which is KESC?s successful contribution to empower the economic engine of the metropolis. In addition, cognizant of the broader sustainability approach, approximately 16 hospitals are being provided with uninterrupted electricity. Under its ?Empowerment Program? KESC provides free electricity to five major healthcare and educational institutions of Karachi which includes Indus Hospital, Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC), Layton-Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust (LRBT), The Citizens Foundation (TCF) and Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

The application grade check by GRI, the world?s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, underscores KESC?s commitment to integrated and transparent representation of its performance for financial and non-financial data, in four key areas of sustainability: economic, environmental, social and governance performance.