Promoting Climate-Resilient Sanitation in Flood-Prone Areas of Pakistan
Pakistan is ranked eighth globally in countries most affected by climate risks and is the fourteenth most water-stressed country, projected to face absolute water scarcity by 2025.1,2,3 The country is vulnerable to multiple climate hazards including floods, droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, landslides and sea level rise. To reduce the impact of climate events and climate change on sanitation services and to support the sustainability of open defecation free (ODF) status, UNICEF Pakistan promoted the elevation of latrines in flood-prone districts as part of the Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation (PATS) and the Accelerated Sanitation and Water for All (ASWA) II project. Between 2018 and March 2022, UNICEF Pakistan supported 65,858 people with access to climate-resilient sanitation in Punjab’s flood-affected Jhang District. During these four years, the majority of these latrines have remained accessible and functional during and after annual floods. The ASWA II project also involved demand creation and provision of resilient sanitation facilities in households, schools and health-care facilities. Importantly, UNICEF Pakistan supported the integration of climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) priorities in national documents, such as in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and capacity-building for communities and the private and public sectors. Furthermore, UNICEF Pakistan is initiating a country-wide climate risk assessment to inform future sanitation programming and infrastructure interventions in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change. Based on lessons learnt so far, UNICEF Pakistan is prioritizing climate-resilient water and sanitation in its next country programme (2023–2027) to scale up climate-resilient WASH services across the country. Proposed activities include strengthening the sector’s capacity to assess and mitigate risks, mainstreaming climate-resilient design elements and principles in water and sanitation services, and integrating climate resilience into national and regional policies for sustainable access to water and sanitation services.