International Rescue Committee (IRC) has called upon international donors to allocate at least 35 percent of the climate-related budget for WASH raising it from the existing 22 percent for Pakistan and prioritizing allocation of WASH and climate-related funding to the countries which are currently unlikely to achieve the WASH SDGs. This was the crux of a research-based ‘Climate Financing for WASH brief – Pakistan Scoping Brief’ undertaken by IRC researchers and was launched at a ceremony jointly organized by the IRC and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here in Islamabad.
The launch was followed by a Panel discussion on Climate Financing for WASH. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) is a pillar of climate resilience that needs adequate funding. Currently, the WASH sector receives 22 percent of the total climate funding.
Shabnam Baloch, Country Director IRC Pakistan, said, “WASH is a critical entry point to reducing community vulnerability to climate impacts, closing gender gaps, health and education disparity, economic inclusion, and progress. Climate resilient WASH goes beyond climate infrastructure and is critical in climate-induced disasters.”
She further noted that while Pakistan needs $7-14 billion annually till 2050 for adaptation alone, there is a dire need to address impediments such as the complexity of the process of accessing climate financing by CSOs, the resource-intensive nature of the issue, and lack of community engagement during project development.
Giving an overview of the climate financing mechanism, SDPI’s Head of Sustainability and Resilience Programme Dr. Shafqat Munir Ahmad observed: “Despite constraints in accessing climate financing from multilateral donors, bilateral partnerships and private sector organizations, both the government and non-government organizations in Pakistan have been struggling to get the country’s share in highly competitive climate financing market amid cumbersome processes”.
He further noted that the funding Pakistan has received is inadequate against Pakistan’s climate financing requirements which run in billions of US dollars annually. As of 2022, Pakistan has been able to access about $ 131 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through inter-mediatory funding, $ 426 million from Global Environment Facility (GEF), and $ 10 million from Climate Adaptation Fund. Only 10 percent of these funds have been allocated to the WASH sector.
The Country Director of Water Aid Pakistan, Arif Jabbar Khan stressed the need to increase awareness of financial losses due to poor WASH conditions at the household level. He said that funds acquired are not properly spent which demonstrates the low absorption capacity within CSOs, and at the government level. He suggested that flagging water scarcity is a good idea but quality must also be prioritized.
Source – The Nation