In Pakistan, some 38.5 million people lack access to safe drinking water sources and approximately 50.7 million people lack access to improved sanitation. In Afghanistan, approximately 16 million people of the country’s rural population does not have access to safe and potable drinking water and approximately 26.6 million people lack proper sanitation.
CWS-P/A finds that too often the inaccessibility of safe drinking water and proper sanitation negatively affects the health and overall well-being of communities. And CWS-P/A recognizes that without clear ownership for water systems by local communities as well as hygiene knowledge promotion, that people will continue to struggle with realizing their right to water and health.
Long-term Benefits for Communities
CWS-P/A believes that improving access to safe water and proper sanitation adds not only to the overall health but also to the socio-economic benefits of families, communities, and the country as a whole. With the task of retrieving water falling mostly to women and children, the long-term impact of long distances and long queues on families can affect every aspect of household life. And in particularly vulnerable environments the cost of neglecting these necessities can create a larger price in the lives of community members who struggle with ongoing hardships.
Children can spend less time in school as they spend hours throughout the day fetching the family’s water supply. And when the demand for water falls to women and mothers, then other household and livelihood responsibilities that promote the well-being of the whole family can suffer – whether a family is displaced far from home or simply living in a water-scarce area. But when safe water is easily accessible and all in the family are healthy, then individual productivity for livelihoods, education, and development is increased.
Access to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
In addition to safe water, the provision of sanitation and the transfer of hygiene knowledge can be equally critical for disaster response and fostering healthy communities to enable development.
CWS-P/A projects continually improve the water quality and hygiene standards of communities and families in disaster-affected and under-developed communities. In all projects – whether it be installing hand pumps or constructing latrines – CWS-P/A works to ensure that the solutions are locally appropriate. Local water committees receive training on managerial, financial, and technical skills on the operation and maintenance of water supply systems. And reflecting the diverse nature of its work, in other projects, CWS-P/A focuses on rainwater harvesting techniques and hygiene awareness.
CWS-P/A works to ensure community participation and ownership in all of its water and sanitation efforts, while increasing the motivation of members. Projects are designed to integrate participatory workshops and training sessions – and contribute to the overall development of communities.
CWS-P/A also integrates hygiene awareness sessions and hygiene weeks into much of its work – and also follow-up to ensure that hygiene practices are effectively adopted. And as a reflection of CWS-P/A’s commitment to the health of children and future generations, CWS-P/A also works to get hygiene and health message included in curriculum for both Pakistani and and Afghan students.