ALTHOUGH water sustains life, it is ironically one of the most undervalued natural resources. The misconception of water as an unlimited free resource is especially prevalent in developing countries.

This misconception, coupled with other countries weak water institutions, results in an urban water crisis - as is evident from the situation  of almost all water utilities in Pakistan.

The current water crisis in the country, especially urban water issues, can be attributed to a multitude of reasons

The population in the country has increased many folds. Water bodies have become contaminated due to the wastewater  discharge from households and industries. Cities have expanded faster and institutional  evolution lags behind rising urbanisation and the challenges associated with it.

Potable drinking water is produced in treatments plants using materials and energy and is then provided to users through ''pumping'' - again an energy driven process.

While people's perception about the value of water may not have changed, the reality has. The tragedy in our country is that people still have a mindset that is centuries-old.

Treated drinking water is not free and even if consumers pay the water bill, it is insufficient to cover the costs of water extraction, treatment and distribution.

Non-evolving water institutions have an equal share in the deteriorating performance of of urban water systems through out the country.

In Pakistan, like most other developing countries, urbanisation occurred rapidly [and is still increasing] , and the water utilities did not evolve in response to the changing dynamics of the urban environments.

Water utilities in Pakistan are not self-financing. While people are unwilling to for water supply, it is a two way process.

For people to pay water-tariffs for low service is not feasible. As a result, water utilities need to raise the level of their performance regarding clean drinking water to consumers.

Although there are numerous examples of water utilities across the globe that have turned into financially self-sufficient entities, water utilities in Pakistan seem to have made their peace with government subsidies and funding from donors.

The honor and serving of the latest Operational Research on Drinking Water in the developing world continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher, PhD [Water resource engineering]  Student Danyal Aziz, University of Utah 


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