Solid Waste a Barrier to Safe Water and Proper Sanitation?


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Solid Waste a Barrier to Safe Water and Proper Sanitation?

Is Solid Waste a Barrier to Safe Water and Proper Sanitation?

In most cities of Pakistan, solid waste is not collected properly. As a result, it is common to see solid waste lying at many collection points. Solid waste is blown away and, in turn, blocks the sewer appurtenances, and the stormwater channels.

A recent post by the London-based Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), rightly points out
saying that solid waste is a barrier to safe water and sanitation. It says:

“poor waste management also has a significant impact on the ability of the poorest urban citizens to access safe water and sanitation services. Solid waste that is not properly treated can result in pollutants entering the water system, making water unsafe for drinking and contributing to the spread of diseases. Blockages in drains, caused by solid waste, contribute to flooding which particularly affects low income communities which are located in flood prone areas, and causes septic tanks or pit latrines to overflow. Solid waste can also have an impact on the sanitation systems used by many low-income communities.”

Talking of work in Kenya, the post says:

“In recent work in Kisumu, Kenya, we have found that pit latrines used in the informal settlements around the city are filling up quickly, because of the high volume of solid waste entering the system – ranging from plastic bags and condoms to more substantial items like old clothes and mattresses. This rubbish also means that emptying is extremely difficult, as the sludge is clogged up, and makes treatment of faecal sludge significantly more expensive.”

This post shows that, in order to have safe water and proper sanitation services, it is indispensable to have a proper solid waste management. Unfortunately, in most developing countries, including Pakistan, solid waste management is not handled by the department that handles water and sanitation work. This results in improper coordination, and hence the problems of solid waste, relative to water and sanitation services.

F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan

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