Status of Drinking Water in Households

July 11, 2021


Status of Drinking Water in Households

PSLM/HIES 2018-19


The 2018-19 Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey/Household Integrated Economic Survey (PSLM/HIES) collects vital information on the availability and consumption of drinking water available for households. Data on important indicators such as the main source of drinking water, the distance and time taken to retrieve water, measures taken by households to ensure that water is safe for consumption and whether households are currently paying for water consumption or are likely to do so in the future is obtained. Having easy access to clean drinking water is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle. More important still is the need to raise awareness regarding the ways in which water can be purified. Along these lines, the PSLM/HIES 2018-19 section on Housing Characteristics gathers data on important metrics related to drinking water. These are discussed in detail below.



Figure 1 above shows the main source of drinking water by region for households categorized according to inside and outside dwelling. From the figure, it can be observed that in households falling under the inside dwelling, urban areas, the most common source of drinking water is piped water (33.07%) followed by motor pump/tube well (26.25%). For rural areas where the inside dwelling is adopted, the highest proportion of households reported utilizing drinking water from motor pump/tube well (27.6%), followed by hand pump (26.39%) and piped water (10.28%), respectively. In the case of urban areas, outside dwelling, 14.65% of households report filtration plant and 6.9% report consuming water from tanker/truck/water bearer. 5.22% of households consume drinking water from bottled water. Lastly, in the case of outside dwellings adopted in rural areas, 8.44% of households use a hand pump, 7.08% use a motor pump/tube well.



Another useful piece of information that can be observed from this data is who installed the water delivery system. Accounting for regional heterogeneity, interesting findings can be revealed. First, in urban areas, the government is the primary source of installing a water delivery system, with 50.4% of households reporting this to be the case, followed by 38.1% of households reporting that they did this on their own. On the other hand, in the case of rural areas, a significant majority, 62.39% to be exact, of households report that they put in a water delivery system in place, followed by 14.66% of households reporting the government to have instituted the water system. For both urban and rural areas, a small percentage of households reported NGOs or the private sector providing water facilities to households (5.73% in the case of urban areas and 9.21% in the case of rural areas).



A significant majority of households report having drinking water available within the house for both urban (69.82%) and rural (69.61%) households. This means that they do not have to venture outside to get access to clean drinking water. However, nearly a fifth of households reported having to travel up to half a kilometre to collect drinking water (20.1% households in urban and 19.76% households in rural areas). As the distance from the household to the source of water increases, the proportion of households choosing to collect water from that particular source decreases. What is interesting to note here is that where one might expect water being collected from far-flung areas in the case of households located in rural regions, this, in reality, does not seem to be the case, with nearly the same proportion of households in both urban and rural areas reporting similar percentages regardless of the distance from the source of drinking water.

Along similar lines, the time is taken to fetch drinking water also varies but with similar trends observed in urban and rural areas. 67.86% of households situated in urban and 59.08% of households located in rural areas reported 1-15 minutes being taken to collect water. As with distance from household to the point of water collection, as the time is taken to collect drinking water increases, the proportion of households decreases. 20.52% of households in urban and 25.73% of households in rural areas report 16-30 minutes taken to collect water. 5.46% of households in urban and 8.49% of households in rural areas report 31-45 minutes taken to collect water, while 3.66% of households in urban and 3.43% of households in rural areas report 46-60 minutes being taken to fetch water.

To ensure drinking water is clean and safe, households rely on various measures such as boiling, using water filters, adding chlorine etc. In urban areas, the most popular method adopted by households was to boil drinking water. This was reported by 63.53% of households. In rural areas as well, this was widely adopted, with 33.53% of households reporting boiling water followed by 28.03% households reporting using the conventional technique of letting water stand and any impurity to settle. 18.21% of households in rural areas report adding bleach or chlorine to purify water, while 9.97% strain water through a cloth. Solar disinfection is adopted by a tiny proportion of households (1.73% in rural and 0.27% in urban areas). 1.45% in rural and 0.45% in urban areas report not knowing how drinking water was made safer, while less than 1% of households in both urban and rural areas report other measures apart from the ones mentioned above to purify water.


Most households in both urban (87.49%) and rural areas (85.1%) report having sufficient drinking water available. 12% of urban households and 14.41% of rural households report not having sufficient water to meet their consumption needs. A negligible proportion of households, 0.51% in urban and 0.49% in rural are unaware of their drinking water needs and have reported it as such.


In the case of paying for consuming water, 40.88% of households in urban areas report that they currently pay, while only 10.56% of households in rural areas do so. 59.12% of urban households report not paying for water, while nearly 90% of rural areas report not paying for water.



An extension of the previous question is whether households would pay in the future for an improved water supply system, 51.73% of urban and 48.66% of rural households were in favour of paying for a better water supply system. On the other hand, 43.16% of urban and 46% of rural households were unwilling to pay to improve the existing water supply system. 5.11% of urban households and 5.35% of rural households were unsure whether they would be willing to pay or not.


This blog post is written by Rida Hameed.