Provincial governments in Pakistan are responsible for water and sanitation and in 2001 devolved responsibility for service delivery to local governments. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab provinces, a number of institutional actors are involved in water management and governance. The provincial Public Health Engineering Departments (PHEDs) install drinking water supply projects in rural areas and in some cases urban areas. Tehsil Municipal Authorities (TMAs) are responsible for water and sanitation services in urban areas and in some cities have delegated this responsibility to Water and Sanitation Agencies (WASAs) who are also responsible for operation and maintenance. A key difference between KP and Punjab provinces is that in the Punjab, rural water supply schemes are transferred to community-based organisations (CBOs) after construction for operation and maintenance, whereas in KP, the PHED is responsible for operation and maintenance. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including WaterAid and Action Against Hunger, also install water supply and sanitation systems in the two provinces, often creating localised water management institutions and governance systems.
Schemes constructed and operated by government/formal water actors do not reach all residents with water and sanitation, and self-provision is common in both KP and Punjab (IBRD, 2013).
For example, Punjab Province’s PHED constructed schemes only reach 32% of the province’s 60 million rural population (World Bank, 2016). This review found limited information on customary water management in the rural areas of KP and Punjab during the review’s timeframe of six days of research. A case study of water management in Chitral District, KP, outlines customary water management practices, largely through the lens of irrigation, including methods for distributing water between households and communities, informal governance structures called ‘grams’, communal water harvesting and systems for maintenance of irrigation channels (Nadeem, Younis & Ahmed, 2013).
This review largely focuses on government/formal water management and governance systems in KP and Punjab provinces and outlines a number of key challenges that are common across the two provinces. Challenges can be grouped into three categories.
Challenges at the management and governance level: The State Bank of Pakistan (2017) argues that the water sector in Pakistan is characterised by multiple authorities with overlapping
responsibilities and duplication of work and as such in terms of domestic and industrial water supply, the problem is not so much water availability but the system of water management and
governance. Both the TMAs and the WASAs suffer from a lack of capacity in terms of both human resources and management systems (Lerebours, 2017). Wastewater and waste management are serious challenges in both Peshawar and Lahore, the two provincial capitals and the WASAs lack capacity, infrastructure and systems, including functioning water treatment plants (Lerebours, 2017).
Challenges related to financial stability and lack of investment: service delivery organisations are not financially viable due to low revenue recovery and low tariffs (IUCN, 2014). The provincial government in Punjab does not allocate any resources to operation and maintenance (O&M) of rural water supply schemes (World Bank, 2016). Approximately 100 rural water supply schemes become dysfunctional every year, partially due to a lack of provincial and local government support to CBOs for O&M and issues such as non-payment of electricity bills
(World Bank, 2016). Availability of spare parts, low levels of maintenance training for CBOs and a lack of repairmen also contribute to system breakdown (Lerebours, 2017).
Challenges related to mega-trends: urbanisation and population growth are driving water competition between different users and sectors and contributing to groundwater over-extraction,
deteriorating water quality and extensive decline of groundwater tables (Qureshi & Sayed, 2014). For example, in KP, drinking water is often contaminated and institutions cannot afford to
conduct water quality tests (Lerebours, 2017). In Lahore, the capital of Punjab, the water table is depleting at a rate of more than one metre per annum (AIIB, 2018).
Recommendations for improving formal water management and governance include improving monitoring and evaluation, capacity building, installing water meters, proper waste and wastewater management and regulation including building treatment plants and raising awareness of water conservation (SBP, 2017; IUCN, 2014, p. 33). To reduce the number of dysfunctional water schemes, the World Bank has worked with the Government of Punjab to create a back-up support mechanism for CBOs to allow them to access funding for repairs before the system becomes dysfunctional (World Bank, 2016).
Gender is extremely important in terms of both access to water and sanitation and participation in decision-making processes and governance (see, for example, Nadeem et al., 2013). In KP, most
district and local government staff are men as women are often not allowed to work or go out alone in public places (Lerebours, 2017). Lady Health Workers in KP, employed by the local government to promote hygiene, are often not allowed to be away from home for too long and lack training on issues including the link between WASH and nutrition (Lerebours, 2017).
This report is the first in a two-part series. The second report, Cooper (2018) focuses on access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in rural and urban areas, and features both
government-led and NGO provision as well as WASH in schools and a focus on sanitation. This first report focuses on formal water governance and management, and key challenges. As such
is draws on official government policies and plans, NGO reviews and reports, and development organisation reports. The review is limited to English-language resources.