For as long as can be remembered, the people of Laman village in Afghanistan’s Badghis Province have struggled finding access to clean water. For drinking, cooking, and household use, they’ve been forced to find water wherever they could, often from streams or other open bodies of water, not always safe for consumption. As a remote part of the country, and having faced challenges caused by severe conflict and drought, local communities have had to rely on themselves to find sufficient water to drink. There is little or no infrastructure, and an overall lack of government support to ensure a safe supply. As result, the people have suffered numerous health consequences.
Ghani, a 35-year-old local farmer, has seen the impact first hand. “Due to this problem [poor access to clean water] my children have often become sick, suffering mostly from diarrhea.” He recounted his family’s experience: “One of my sons, Omar, became very sick as a result of using dirty water from the river. We struggled a lot during this time. Omar clung to me as we took him to the hospital after traveling many miles to reach there. The doctor was clear: Omar's illness resulted from drinking unsafe water.”
Because of the poor economic situation in the region, the people of Laman village have not had suitable means to purify their drinking water before consumption. The problem is exacerbated by a very limited supply of water overall. A large family like Ghani’s, with eight members of the household, sometimes survives on two large buckets of water per day, less than 10 liters.
But much has changed with the introduction of World Vision’s water, sanitation and hygiene programming in Laman Valley. In partnership with P&G, WV has distributed water purification packets to nearly 2000 people in Laman Valley alone. This distribution has been part of a broader project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Overall, WV has distributed thousands of family water kits, including P&G packets, across Badghis and Herat Provinces, reducing the occurrence of water-borne illnesses such as acute diarrhea – a major cause of child malnutrition in Afghanistan.
The people have been happy with the results. “When I went to home, I called my children and my whole family right away. I wanted them to see this, something that is like magic: clean water from these packets” Ghani explains. Having received training on use of the packets from WV staff, he demonstrated for his family, adding their contents first to half-full bucket of water. After mixing the water for ten minutes, he strained the water into another bucket, separating the clean water from the contaminants. In a matter of minutes, their whole family had water safe to drink. “My family was amazed,” shared Ghani, “How it is to make pure water!”
One local leader, Abdul Khaliq, 45, has an important role in addressing the problems of the community. He is happy with the support provided by World Vision and the contributions of USAID and P&G. “We feel happy, and are pleased to see that diseases in our community will decrease, particularly for the children.” In addition to the short-term assistance, his community will receive one of twenty new solar-powered water systems as part of this project, ensuring a more durable source of clean water for years to come. “The water network is under construction, and we are glad to have clean and safe drinking water very soon,” Khaliq shared.
Until that time, families like Ghani’s will make good use of the packets provided to them by P&G. “We keep the packets safely stored…and we use them whenever we fetch water from the river or spring. This has now become our practice.”