“Lack of latrines posed a major challenge for us,” says Baqir Shah from a village devastated by floods in Afghanistan. Together with the community, we built 38 latrines

Published: Feb 26, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
AFG, COF_Wash Emergency Response in Jalriz, and PIN constructed Latrines for flood affected families in Takana village of Jalriz distric, in Central Afghanistan.
© Photo: Jallaluddin Adibpoor

As per UNOCHA, heavy off-season rainfall started on 22 July 2023 and caused flash floods in multiple provinces in Afghanistan. By 24 July 2023, the flash floods affected 18 provinces. The Wardak Province is among the most impacted and accounts for 37 of the 61 lives lost. “The flash flood had a significant impact on the village of Takana. We lost almost everything—livestock, agricultural products, houses, and even loved ones," says Sayed Baqir Shah.

Sayed Baqir Shah (62) lives in Takana with his 9 family members; Takana, situated among mountains, is one of the most flood-affected villages in Jalriz district. “It is located in a long, narrow valley with only one small river that significantly impacts our farming. We typically use its water for irrigation and livestock,” says Sayed Baqir Shah.

At 1:30 AM, heavy rainfall started. Later, a flood descended upon the village from the nearby mountains. “The mountains surrounding our village are not very high. Often, during heavy rains or when the snow melts in spring, we experience such events," says Baqir Shah.

“The village is devastated. All the houses were damaged, and people have lost everything. There was nothing left; we could hardly save our lives. All our goods and other essential materials have disappeared," he adds.

The flood took everything from us

Most of the villagers are farmers who typically cultivate wheat, potatoes, corn, beans, onions, and apple trees. The flash floods caused them to lose their crops, and they struggled to meet their families' needs. Many people lost loved ones; children, women, the elderly, and adolescents were among the deceased. "We lost two newly married couples and 16 of my wife’s family. Nothing remained. We are simple people, and farming is the only way to support our family. But after the flood destroyed our lands, we were left empty-handed," says Baqir Shah.

The lack of latrines was one of our biggest problems

One of the most common issues in the aftermath of natural disasters is the lack of sanitation facilities. “One of our main challenges was the lack of toilet and sanitation services. Men started practising open defecation, while for women and children, the situation was unbearable,” he describes. The lack of latrines is a health and protection risk that hampers the recovery of the community and increases the physical and mental consequences of the flood.

“Thanks to PIN for constructing toilets with handwashing facilities and conducting hygiene awareness sessions for us,” says Sayed Baqir Shah. He says that the community saw how to make the best of the available materials to ensure cleanliness and avoid the outbreak of disease.

We constructed 38 Latrines with hand-washing facilities

“The technical team from People in Need surveyed our village interviewed all the affected families, and started to work to establish dry-pit latrines with handwashing facilities. Now we have toilets with handwashing facilities, which covers one of our major issues,” says Sayed Baqir Shah. Our team worked together with the community to select the locations of the latrines so that everyone, men, women, children and older people, could access them. To empower the community and support the local economy, we implemented the project through a Cash for Work approach which helped improve the local market context.

Thanks to funding from our People in Need Club of Friends (COF) collection, we have built 38 latrines with handwashing facilities and provided hygiene awareness sessions for 514 people. 

Autor: Jallaluddin Adibpoor, Communications Officer, PIN Afghanistan

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