KARACHI: Around 12 million urban dwellers in Pakistan are living without proper sanitation and 48,000 of have no choice but to defecate in the open using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags dubbed 'flying toilets', disclosed a report 'State of the World's Toilets: Overflowing cities' issued by WaterAid ahead of World Toilet day that has to be observed on Saturday, November 19.
The report added that the India, world's fastest growing economy, ranks top for having the greatest number of urbanites, 157 million people, are living without safe and private toilest and where 41 million urban dwellers practising open defecation.
The report which looks at the problems of urban sanitation, states that 2.3 billion people around the world don't have access to a safe toilets and almost 900 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
"However Pakistan is making progress in helping its urban population gain access to a toilets," said the report, adding that since 1990 the proportion of urbanites living without sanitation has halved, and it now also ranks seventh in the world for the country making the most progress in reaching urban populations with toilets.
The high population density of urban areas means that diseases are spreading fast in the absence of good sanitation. One child dies every two minutes from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Globally 159 million children under five have their physical and cognitive development stunted; many of such cases are caused from repeated bouts of diarrhoea attributed to dirty water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene.
The report quoted a case study from Karachi's Orangi Town - among Asia's biggest slums and stated that the slum was deprived of basic services for many years until, in 1980, local people set up an organisation called the Orangi Pilot Project to help citizens improve their streets, connect their houses and lanes to city utilities, and install 72,000 household toilets. The organisation has laid around 1.3 million feet of sewer lines and one man, Muhammad Abdul Qadir, estimates he was involved in 75 percent of that work. "Now, the wastewater flows directly to the main sewerage line. So, a lot of people have benefited and are at ease now .
The report also added that the Pakistan's towns and cities are growing so fast that by 2050 it is estimated that more than half of the population will be urban. Today, there are nine cities with populations of over 1 million people. While Pakistan has made considerable progress, stark inequalities still remain, and the poorest are still being left behind. The inability of urban areas to provide enough employment, housing and services to newcomers from rural areas pushes up slum growth rates and inflames tensions between different ethnic and social groups.