CWS water programs in Pakistan promote health and self-sufficiency
From model villages to interactive theater, Church World Service- Pakistan/Afghanistan is using innovative techniques to create water projects that combine water infrastructure development with education, advocacy and awareness.
Water systems in many of Pakistan's communities were destroyed in natural disasters, including the October 2005 earthquake and the 2007 cyclone. Other communities, such as those in the Allai valley, located in a remote pocket of the Himalayan Mountains, are so poor that they have never had water systems.
As a result, villagers living with contaminated water supplies endured shortages of safe drinking water, poor hygienic conditions, sickness and death from waterborne diseases and an inability to grow income-producing crops or to raise healthy livestock.
CWS, in partnership with local agencies, now has restored more than 30 water supply systems and has provided several communities with more than 400 hand pumps, more than 8,000 jerry cans for safe water storage and more than 5,000 CWS Hygiene Kits.
The new water systems are more than simply donations; they are significant steps on the road to self-sufficiency and sustainability for the villagers.
By encouraging community participation, providing technical training, and helping residents establish community organizations equipped to both manage the new infrastructure and designate "caretakers" trained in hand pump installation and repair, efficient operation and maintenance of the new systems is assured for generations to come.
Mohammad, a resident of Jundwal, a small Pakistani village severely damaged by the 2005 earthquake, who assisted with the CWS-initiated Water/Sanitation project, already is seeing some significant changes.
"Restoration of the water supply system provided relief to women who had to walk all the way up to the spring to collect water. Now, we are adopting hygienic practices as well protecting our families from diseases," he says.
Promoting better hygiene is a major component of the CWS program—and the agency found a way to make the hygiene training fun by creating inter-village competitions that promote practical implementation of newly-learned hygiene skills and help people change their behavior to incorporate those new skills.
In Sindh Province, an area severely damaged by Cyclone Yemyin in 2007, CWS and partner Strengthening Participatory Organization, a Pakistani NGO, has also established two model villages aimed at empowering communities to make decisions that will improve hygienic conditions in the area. Other communities visit these model villages to learn about hand pump maintenance and healthy hygiene practices.
With all the systems in place and the different communities organized to run them, CWS used education and advocacy campaigns to increase awareness of the importance of safe water and sanitation.
As part of the project in Allai, interactive theater, puppet shows, participatory videos made by the children, radio messages and a best practices video produced with help from Pakistani non-profit the Interactive Resource Center, drove home the message about water safety and good hygiene.
Between January and June 2008, adults and children developed two plays and 15 interactive theater performances around issues of waterborne and sanitation-related diseases, personal and environmental hygiene, illegal water logging, solid waste disposal, household gardening and tree planting.
Benefits from the hygiene trainings and the improved water systems are readily apparent.
"Previously our children were rushing to the medical center in Bagan four to five times a month for the treatment of fever, gastro, and skin problems," says Ahmed Mallah of Keti Bandar. "But now my children go to the health center only one or two times in a month."
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