In Afghanistan we have been working on a household water treatment, and community sanitation project, using a market driven approach, that focuses on using marketing techniques to create demand for water treatment and sanitation products, and then equipping local tradesman with the skills and tools to meet the new demand. The program has been highly successful and has attracted a lot of attention from UN who are now promoting this approach across all of Afghanistan. We have also worked with the Afghan government to amend its national policies to include household water treatment and community led sanitation, as acceptable strategies for meeting the water and sanitation needs of the country.
In this latest trip I went to evaluate project progress in Jawsjan province in the north, and Kapisa province near Kabul.
After flying into Kabul and meeting with UN and Government reps we proceeded to Mazar el Sharif in the north. Due to security issues and to create greater acceptance with the local community, we decided to travel and work in national dress (see pics). We bought clothing in Mazar, then travelled to Shrebegan. It is a road that has a reputation of attacks by the Taliban. Then from
Shrebegan we visited villages in Jawsjan. Normally people in this community collect water from irrigation canals and treat it using the locally made household water filters we are promoting. But they are currently experiencing a severe drought and all the water in the canals had dried up. So instead people were collecting water from shallow wells, but in one village all the wells had dried up, and they had to travel up to 8 hours to collect drinking water. We have now started emergency provision of water to the most affected villages, and are looking at long term interventions to secure adequate water supply for these areas through the dry season. From Shrebegan we travelled back to Kabul via Bamiyan, which is famous for the ancient Buddhist statues that were destroyed by the Taliban, and now only the notches in the mountain side remain. We continued on to visit villages in Kapisa where the project started about 3 years ago. It was encouraging to hear the stories from community members of improved health and money saved on medication now that they are drinking filtered water and understand good hygiene. The filter production businesses have been thriving over the past 3
years and filter sales have been strong, providing a steady income for the technicians.
On arrival back in Kabul I was woken at 5.30am to the sound of several massive explosions which shook the house. Then gunfire erupted and helicopters filled the sky, the gun battle continued for most of the day. I stayed put and flicked onto the BBC website to find out that the British Council was under attack by the Taliban. Later in the day I found out a NZ SAS unit was involved and a kiwi soldier was one of the casualties. As always, I’m quick to let the family know I was ok, as the kids had been praying especially for safety in this last trip.
This was my last trip to Afghanistan for this contract. I really enjoy the country and the people, and we pray that they will one day be able to have peace.
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