Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals,communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Country Water ActionsPakistan: Project Brings Hope for Clean-up of Rawalpindi’s “Shame”
Efforts are now underway to clean up the Nullah Lai stream,which has become an embarrassing dumping ground inRawalpindi, Pakistan. Will Rawalpindi residents be successfulin cleaning the stream and getting their dignity back?
TRASH BINS BY THE STREAM'S BANKS
Nullah Lai, a stream that passes though Rawalpindi,Pakistan, has been the city's dumping ground for manyyears. This could now finally change."Containers would be set up alongside the Nullah for wastecollection," says Syed Aslam Ali Sabzwari of the Water andSanitation Agency (WASA). The WASA program, funded bydonors and local and provincial governments, aims toimprove the city's water and sanitation system.Garbage collection points are being set up by the AsianDevelopment Bank-funded Rawalpindi EnvironmentImprovement Project (REIP) alongside other measures forimproving water supply, sanitation, and sewerage."The project is our last chance to change the destiny of thecity," says Raja Javed Ikhlas, District Nazim (mayor) of Rawalpindi. "The REIP will cater to the needs of the city forthe next 50 years," he adds.
RAWALPINDI RESIDENTS’ “SHAME ”
The Nullah Lai epitomizes Rawalpindi's poor water,sanitation, and sewerage management. Ilyas Khan, aresident who throws bagsful of household waste into theriver, is burdened by shame over his deed. "I know its wrongbut I am forced to do it," he utters hesitantly. "There is noproper place to throw waste."Solid waste has obstructed the water flow at several places,and ponds of rotting waste send foul smells into thesurroundings. The problem is compounded during the rainyseason when water overflows into the city's low-lying areas.In the past, the floods have been responsible for a numberof deaths and widespread damage to property. Summerfloods in July 2001 killed over 60 people and damagedproperty worth millions of rupees."The city generates about 810 tonnes of waste per day,"says Naseer Chaudhry, director of sanitation at WASA. "Thegovernment and municipal bodies presently collect anddispose only about half of that." The city authorities hadwidened and deepened the Nullah Lai after the 2002 floodsbut local residents say the space that was created for waterhas already been filled by more garbage and siltation.Regular clean-up was also lacking."Nullah Lai is no doubt the shame of Rawalpindi," saysRawalpindi trader Maqsood Nabi. He is, however, optimisticthat things would change, because now there is a majorproject for rehabilitating the stream.
PREVENTING A FLOOD OF GARBAGE
The Nullah Lai flowsthrough two cities—Islamabad andRawalpindi. This regionreceives about 500millimeters of rain duringthe monsoon, and theNullah Lai has flooded itsneighborhood at leastonce every four years.Pakistan's meteorologicaloffice, which had beenwarning of an extendeddrought, has revised itsforecast saying that themonsoon rains would be"normal" this year. Fearsabout possible floodinghave spread.The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA)provided 360 million Pakistani rupees (about US$5.9million) for the installation of a state-of-the-art FloodForecasting and Warning System after the last major floodin 2001. But the warning system will not be completed tillJune 2007.Preventive measures have also been planned by the REIP,including removing garbage and preventing dumping in thestream, and ending encroachments on the embankments.Also planned are the construction of an 11-kilometer roadand fencing on both sides of the Nullah Lai.As a long-term flood prevention measure, JICA has alsoproposed diverting the Nullah Lai's waters, and the CapitalDevelopment Authority (CDA) has approved one of threepossible routes it had proposed. The project would involvebuilding a 9.8 kilometer channel to divert water from theNullah Lai to another Nullah—the Nullah Korang—throughIslamabad.