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Below 5pc of Zaranj residents consume clean water

Below 5pc of Zaranj residents consume clean water

Oct 16, 2017 - 17:19

ZARANJ (Pajhwok): The scarcity of potable water has turned into a serious challenge for residents of the capital of southwestern Nimroz province, where less than five percent of people use healthy water.

A new survey by the Central Statics Organization (SCO) shows 85 percent of water contains E. coli bacteria in Kabul, Balkh, Kapisa, Samangan, Badakhshan, Daikundi, Nangarhar, Khost and Herat provinces.

According to the Nimroz water supply department, only five percent of people in Zaranj city have access to paid clean water that is also not tested to be fully healthy by the organs concerned.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, residents of Nimroz, particularly districts, have been struggling with an acute shortage of potable water and obliged to consume unhealthy water.

Lack of potable water a challenge in Nimroz

Mualvi Gul Ahmad Ahmadi, a provincial council member, said people’s access to water increased with enough rainfalls in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces and the increase in water level in the Helmand River that flows into Kang district of Nimroz. “Otherwise we face lack of irrigation and potable water.”

“The water from Helmand River usually flows on temporary basis, it flows for three or four months a year, that’s why the lack of water in Nimroz has become serious,” he said.

He said a clean drinking water project had been extended from Qala-i-Fath area of Chahar Burjak district to Zaranj but people could not benefit from the scheme due to the absence of meters.

He asked the officials concerned to pay attention to people’s problems otherwise they would start agitating.

Abdulhai Rahguzin, who owns a hop in Zaranj, told Pajhwok Afghan News that people across Nimroz including the provincial capital had no access to clean drinking water and in some areas people travel long distances to fetch water home.

“The water which private companies distribute to public is not fully safe and it also causes diseases, but people buy it because they have no other option,” he said.

Malalai Ahmadi, another resident of Nimroz, also said the lack of potable water was a challenge in the province. She said residents of the province had long been consuming unsafe water.

“Some people buy clean water but what about the poor lot who cannot afford it,” she asked, and grumbled despite large amount of money coming in foreign aid to Afghanistan over the past more than a decade, the Afghans continued to drink unhygienic water.

She hoped the officials concerned would take action and provide clean water to the public as soon as possible.

Mohammad Younus Haqbin, a civil society activist, said water taps had been installed in people’s homes but its distribution needed installation of meters.

Unsafe water threatens Nimroz residents’ health

Salahuddin Ayubi, another civil society activist in Nimroz, also said the people of Nimroz had long been suffering from the lack of safe water.

“Around 50 to 60 children fall ill and are hospitalized on daily basis after consuming unclean water, we want clean water for public consumption and the problem should be resolved,” he said.

Nasir Ahmad, a resident of Zaranj city, said his four-year child infected diarrhea after drinking unclean water and his treatment cost him 2,000 afghanis.

“We purchase clean water, but its taste changes … sometimes bitter, sometimes salty and sometimes muddy. The company does not provide clean water always,” he said.

Gul Bahadur Shah, a doctor in Zaranj Civil Hospital, also said usage of unsafe water created health related problems in people.

He said most of the patients coming to the hospital were affected by water-borne diseases.

“Most of residents of Nimroz cannot afford to buy clean water everyday so they use unhealthy water that causes diseases,” he said.

Major water supply network in Zaranj

The water supply network project in Zaranj was completed after several years of work but residents of the city are yet to benefit from the project for unknown reasons.

Eng. Farid Azim, provincial rural rehabilitation and development director, said that the water supply project after its completion was handed over to the water supply department and his office had no role in that.

“The Zaranj water supply project was implemented in two phases at a cost of $22,000, the project was completed and inaugurated in June this year,” he said.

He said the Afghan government-funded project has the capacity to supply 243 liters of water in one second and can resolve the problem of Zaranj people.

However, Eng. Shah Wali, acting head of Nimroz water supply department, said the water would not reach the people until they installed meters in their houses.

He said the water supply network would facilitate 27,000 families in Zaranj and each family should install meter to use the service. Currently only 530 families have so far installed the meters, he added.

Wali said the water would flow to people’s houses in a week if they installed the meter and paid the service’s fee. He said the project could supply safe water to 80 to 90 percent of Zaranj people.

On the other hand, an official of Nimroz water supply department said they faced shortage of personnel and the only 10 personnel in their department could not supply water to 27,000 families.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Samay, the governor of Nimroz, told Pajhwok that the water supply service was a shared responsibility of the public and the government.

“It is the government’s responsibility to supply water, but installation of meters and payment of bills is the responsibility of consumers,” he said.

Abdul Ghani, a resident of Zaranj, said he had installed the meter and cleared his payments and was now waiting for the water to flow into his house.

He said the water supplied by the government was cleaner and healthier than the water distributed by private companies in tankers.

But another resident of the city, Omaid, said he did not install the meter because he believed the water supply network would not last long.

Nimroz is one of sandy provinces of the country and the wells’ water in its capital is salty. The Helmand River flows into Zaranj for a short period.