South Asia

Published: Thursday 30 June 2005

Water deaths: Over 75 people, mostly children, have died after drinking polluted water in the past one-and-a-half months in Pakistan's Sindh province. Another 6,600 have been admitted to various hospitals, media reports said.

"The entire summer is ahead but local municipal authorities have not taken any steps. Contaminated water is continuously supplied," Ghulam Mustafa Talpur, an activist with the Pakistan branch of international non-governmental organisation (NGO) Actionaid, was quoted as saying. A recent water quality study by Aga Khan University, Karachi, also revealed that old and decaying underground sewage and water pipes had ruptured in many places and the drinking water supplied was being contaminated with sewage. Sindh's health department says over 8,300 cases of water-borne disease have been reported in the province in May 2005, with more than 2,700 in Hyderabad district alone.

Just a few days ago, Hyderabad residents had expressed concern about the decision of irrigation authorities to release contaminated water from the Manchhar lake into the Indus river. 40 people were killed in 2004 due to water-borne diseases triggered by a similar move (see Down To Earth, 'Toxic scare', May 31, 2005).

NGO code: Aid organisations working in Afghanistan adopted a new code of conduct to regulate their activities on May 30, 2005 at Kabul. The step was taken in view of allegations that many NGOs had misused funds allocated to them to help rebuild the nation.

The code of conduct, signed by 90 NGOs, emphasises transparency, accountability, and improving the quality of services, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) said. "The code of conduct is a public statement for those ngos who have signed up to it, that they take it very seriously to adhere to some minimum standards in implementing operations and institutional standards," Anja De Beer, executive coordinator of ACBAR, was quoted as saying. The code also provides for a review of complaints made against NGOs by a special commission.

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