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Funds for water sector in Punjab not adequate, says WB report

Funds for water sector in Punjab not adequate, says WB report

ISLAMABAD: Punjab is the most populous province of the country with a population of 100 million; however, the financial allocation for the water sector is around 5 per cent of total annual development plan of the provincial government.

The World Bank says in a report that this allocation is very low as compared to the health and education budget allocations of 23 and 29 per cent, respectively, in the 2015-16 budget.

Of the Rs250 million budget allocated by the finance department in 2014-15, only Rs61 million was released with the rest of the funds lapsing in the government system.

To improve the situation, the Punjab government sought technical assistance from the World Bank to strengthen the accountability of service provision by communities to ensure improved access to rural water supply, particularly for the marginalised and poor.

The technical assistance report recommended that Punjab should continue to support and build on the approach of providing rural water through a community-based organisation (CBO) managed system. Service quality, access and sustainability can be improved if the CBO management model is deepened further. Providing CBOs with a greater role in the rural water supply project combined with a mix of training, networking and backstopping will generate the capacity required to deliver better service.

The Punjab Health Engineering Department (PHED) is catering to the water needs of nearly 32 per cent of the province’s 60 million rural inhabitants. Allocation of funds for PHED in the provincial budget remains around 5 per cent.

In the province, 33 per cent of the total numbers of schemes were dysfunctional.

Analysis of the data showed that 49 per cent of the dysfunctional schemes are not operating due to technical faults, 26 per cent have gone out of operation due to weak financial capacity in maintenance and 25 per cent have stopped operating due to managerial or social reasons amongst the beneficiary communities.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2016

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