Dubai, UAE - 12 May 2009 - The Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP), an initiative of Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS,P), was declared as one of the twelve winners of the Dubai International Award for Best Practices (DIABP). This is the first ever social project from Pakistan to receive this prestigious award in the fourteen year history of DIABP. The Award is sponsored by the Dubai Municipality, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current ruler of Dubai, in partnership with UN-Habitat. WASEP was selected from a list of nearly 500 international submissions by the Award’s Technical Advisory Committee.
With an objective to supply integrated water supply infrastructure and preventing the incidence of water-related diseases, WASEP has provided potable water and installed over 9200 latrines in 250 villages, benefiting over 200,000 people across the country. According to World Health Organization, WASEP has reduced incidences of diarrhea reported in local health centers by at least 25%, while at the household level the reduction has been approximately 60%.
In his address to the audience, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman Dubai Municipality, said that the Award reflects the policy and commitment of Dubai Government and the United Arab Emirates towards sustainable development of the human settlements and protection of the environment on the basis of mutual international cooperation.
“The award seeks to encourage and recognize outstanding human achievements and experiences, to raise awareness on best practices that can improve lives of the marginalized people, and transfer them to other societies. This award also provides an opportunity to all government organizations, the private sector, local authorities and civil society organizations to take part and present pioneering works and projects in this field”, said Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality.
In Pakistan, like many countries of the developing world, inadequate quality and coverage of water and sanitation infrastructure is a major issue and is duly reflected in that fact that nearly 30% of reported illnesses and 40% of deaths in Pakistan are attributed to water-borne diseases.
For AKPBS,P’s WASEP, the Award was received by Ms. Shukur Perver, a beneficiary of the Water and Sanitation Program in Gilgit and Mr. Hafiz Sherali, AKPBS,P’s Chairman.
Delivering the UN speech on behalf of Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UNCHS, Ambassador Inga Björk-Klevby, Assistant-Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, said the awards were valuable means of recognizing excellence, promoting learning and sharing best practices.
"This year, the award ceremony is held at a time when the world is going through the worst economic crisis in living memory. If we do not manage it better, while we still can, especially the urban part of it in which most of us live, we will lose the battle against climate disruption as well," said Inga Björk-Klevby.
She further added, “Today the world grapple with the global impacts of the economic crisis and climate change, we need innovative ideas, informed communities and municipalities and government support. I am delighted the winners include new ideas on dealing with climate change and all address environmental sustainability in one way or another, and that all respond to various targets of the Millennium Development Goals."
The other winners of the 7th cycle of awards, from amongst the 500 submissions received, included projects from USA, China, Spain, South Africa, Indonesia, Palestine, Mexico, Colombia, Senegal, DR Congo and Burundi. . In its 14 years of existence, DIAB has received 3100 submission from 140 countries, out of which 70 have been chosen as winners, including 12 of this year.
On receiving the award, Mr. Sherali, said that the contribution of WASEP in uplifting the living conditions of the people in Pakistan has been a source of tremendous satisfaction for AKPBS,P, but a lot more needs to be done. The Dubai Award brings yet another moment of honour and celebration for all Pakistanis across the globe. The Award acknowledges the efforts of AKPBS,P for their efforts in partnering with local communities and empowering women in the process of providing sustainable facilities for potable water and sanitation.
Earlier this year AKPBS,P also received the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Global Leadership Award 2009 in Uganda and the National Energy Globe Award 2008 in Prague. Previously AKPBS,P has received the ALCAN Prize for Sustainability in 2005 and the World Habitat Award in 2006 for Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP) and its Water and Sanitation Extension Program (WASEP).
The Award ceremony, attended by high-profile leaders and heads of globally renowned organizations, was held at Dubai’s Cultural and Scientific Association.