Drinking Water Quality in Pakistan: Current Status and Challenges
Launching of National Water Quality Monitoring Programe Report (2020-21)

Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) leads a National Water Quality Monitoring Program (NWQMP) to assess the status of water quality in Pakistan. National Water Quality Monitoring Program Report (2020-21) is launched by the PCRWR on October 20, 2021 in a one-day National and Provincial Stakeholders Consultation Meeting on WASH Sector Reform Agenda organized by the Ministry of Climate Change and PCRWR in Marriott Islamabad.
Chairman PCRWR, Dr Muhammad Ashraf gave an overview of Pakistan’s water challenges and required measures. He highlighted the issues related to water supply, management, governance and emphasized to address these through policy measures, capacity enhancement and by introducing the concept of service delivery in water sector.

The Chief Guest, Federal Secretary Science and Technology, Dr Akhtar Nazir in his opening remarks mentioned that Ministry of Science and Technology through PCRWR is committed to provide technical assistance to the nation regarding status of Safe Drinking Water in the country. Afterwards, NWQMP Report 2020 was launched by the Secretary MoST Dr. Akhtar Nazir, Chairman PCRWR Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, and Secretary PCRWR, Mr. Faizan ul Hassan.

In 2020, this water quality monitoring program was undertaken in 29 cities of four provinces, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Dr Hifza Rasheed, DG Water Quality PCRWR presented the findings on the current status of the drinking water quality in 29 cities, causes of slow paced improvement and the way forward. The findings showed that 39% of the monitored water sources were safe, whereas 61% sources were unsafe for drinking. The microbiological contamination (41%) is the primary challenge for water supply agencies. However, it is relatively easy and cost effective to treat such kind of contaminant, if the source of contaminant is identified and appropriate technologies are used to treat it.

Comparison of status of 39% safe water in 2020 with previously 31% in 2015 showed slow-paced drinking water quality improvement in the country. With this slow paced water quality improvement, less than 50% of the population is projected to have safe water access by 2030. Achieving SDG target 6.1 by 2030 requires speeding up the water quality improvement by four times.
The monitoring outcomes of 29 cities make us realize that all stakeholders such as Federal, Provincial and local Governments, local communities, industries, academia etc. need to play their roles in improving drinking water quality.
In the same event, PCRWR professionals of its network of 24 water quality laboratories from across the country have actively contributed in providing inputs for the MoCC’s WASH sector reforms agenda to build necessary capacities and systems for achieving SDGs related to water and sanitation.