"We walked five kilometres for the water," says Ruqia. People in Need is restoring water resources in AfghanistanPublished: Mar 3, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
Twenty-year-old Ruqia lives with her two sisters, three brothers, and parents in a small mud-built house in Bum Ab Dara, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Bum Ab Dara is located in a hilly area surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Temperatures here can quickly drop to –10° Celsius, and villagers lack an appropriate transportation system, health care, sanitation, clean drinking water, and food. During heavy snowfalls, the roads to Bum Ab Dara are closed, making it difficult for Ruqia and other residents to travel from the village.
Ruqia's family owns a small farming plot in her village; agricultural products are their main source of income. There are no other jobs or sources of income available. Afghanistan's current social and economic situation makes it difficult to cover even the most basic living expenses. Ruqia's family depends on harvest in summer, and like other residents, consume their products in the winter season.
Clean water disappeared
This year the situation worsened significantly and made Ruqia and her family hopeless. "Droughts and floods affected water sources in our village, and we faced many challenges because we did not have access to clean and safe water," says Ruqia.
The only water source in her village is a public water stream and a water spring about one kilometre from her home. "When the flood damaged the spring, we used water from the stream. It was not clean, but we had no other choice. This stream dried up during the summer, so my father and I took water from another village, and we walked five kilometres to bring water for our daily home use—it was so difficult," Ruqia adds that they used a donkey to carry water in high mountains.
Six wells for 90 families
People in Need has restored six water wells in six villages in the Behsood District as part of a project funded by the European Union. We cleaned wells and installed water pumps. As a result, 90 families benefited, and these now have access to long-term safe and clean drinking water. "Now the water well is cleaned, and we can take the water easily with the newly installed water pump. We have access to clean drinking water, and I feel happy," says Ruqia.
The people of Afghanistan face one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and access to clean water has become critical more than ever. According to UNICEF, around 8 out of every 12 Afghans use contaminated and unsafe water, and 93 per cent of the children (15.6 million) live in areas with high water vulnerability.
Clean water as prevention for diseases
Our team in Afghanistan is working to improve water facilities, including wells and karezes (traditional water canals) in remote and rural areas of Afghanistan. This work intends to provide people with access to long-term safe and clean drinking water and prevent the spread of diarrheal disease, one of the most common causes of death for children using unsafe water.
Additionally, in the project "Provision of Emergency Assistance to Vulnerable People Affected by Conflict and Natural Disaster," we, together with funding from the European Union, support people in Afghanistan with food security, livelihoods and agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition.