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Water Problems


Access to safe drinking water is a crucial problem facing both the urban and the rural population in Pakistan. Several surveys have been conducted by Gallup Pakistan in this regard to estimate the nature and seriousness of the problem.
In a survey in 2006, Gallup Pakistan found out that 79% of the people use the same water for all purposes and that only 21% of the people use separate water for drinking. 48% of the respondents revealed that they obtain their water simply from the tap, 33% had a personal motor pump, 10% used a hand pump, 4% used a tap outside the house and only 1% obtained water from a well. Amongst those who used separate water for drinking, tube wells are the primary source of drinking water for 27% of them, 26% purchased it and 23% obtained it from some other source.
This data highlights the inadequacy and lack of effective distribution of water, and especially drinking water, to the masses. Most people have to go through inconvenient measures to procure water and store it. To exacerbate the problem, the water is not even safe. 43% of the people questioned in 2006 claimed that the water they had access to was unsafe, 13% were doubtful and 44% considered it to be safe. These respondents cited several reasons for considering the water to be unsafe. 39% asserted that it had an unusual color, 17% said that it tasted bad, 19% stated that it had a foul odor and 24% claimed that it caused diarrhoea.
Some of the people facing this dilemma have adopted several methods of sterilizing this water. In 2006, 23% of the respondents stated that they boiled the water, 10% used a filter and 8% drained it. However, the fact remains that a majority (58%) takes no such measure and this unsafe water poses a major threat to the health and well being of these people. In fact, in a poll in 2006, 24% of the respondents claimed that someone in their household has suffered from diarrhoea, with the average number of people suffering this ailment standing at 2 people per household.
The situation does not seem to have improved much when one considers the data collected in 2005. When questioned about the water being safe, 42% of the people strongly felt that the drinking water available was unsafe, 33% somewhat agreed to the claim that the water was unsafe and 14% were unsure. The percentage of people who somewhat disagreed and those who definitely disagreed with the claim stood at 6% and 4% respectively.
Unfortunately, most of these people do not possess the means and resources necessary to overcome such a problem. While some of them have opted for water filters, only 40% of those questioned in 2005 actually considered them to be effective. In fact, several respondents (43%) felt that the filters were highly overpriced, 44% considered their price to be reasonable and 13% were unsure. People who are stuck with unsafe water and cannot afford to buy filters either rely on the traditional methods of boiling and draining the water or simply do not bother with sterilization.
These surveys and polls were conducted by Gallup Pakistan, an affiliate of Gallup International, on a sample of over 1100 respondents in urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan. This sample was statistically selected across all ages, income groups and educational levels. The error for a sample of this kind is estimated to be +/- 5% at a 95% confidence level.