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Tajikistan: Improving access to clean water

Thirteen-year-old daughter of Shahrigul Sanydinova, from the village of Kumsangir in the south of Tajikistan, suffered several stomach disorders last year just because the family used dirty water from the common well.

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Providing rural households with access to clean water is one of the Millennium Development Goals.

Shahrigul is a housewife and her husband, Sharif, is a retired engineer from the local collective farm. The couple has three children, one son and two daughters. Sharifs’s monthly pension is 14 dollars. In addition to that, the family grows corn and wheat on a piece of rented land. Profits from this activity are enough just to cover basic expenses. They could not afford to extend the water pipelines to their house and rely on water from the communal well.

Many residents in the Kumsangir district of Tajikistan, in Central Asia, have no access to clean drinking water. Water providing networks have been deteriorating since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and local governments do not invest in maintaining the infrastructure. Village residents use wells that are filled with water from ditches and irrigation channels. As a result, children and adults often contract various water-borne diseases.

Access to water is the most pressing need affecting close to 885 million people in the developing world. In 2000, the world’s leading countries and development institutions agreed eight Millennium Development Goals to be met by 2015. Among the set tasks was the promise of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. However, a lot needs to be done to fulfill the pledges.

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Sharif and two of his daughters purify water with the help of the new filter.

Shahrigul’s family was able to solve their need through the water filter projects of Habitat for Humanity. Sharif heard about bio-sand filters from the neighbors in the village mosque. The head of community explained the benefit of such filters and recommended getting them. A few days later, Sharif went to the office of Habitat for Humanity’s affiliate in Kumsangir and registered there. Finally, he was able to install a water filter into his house.

“I remember there was a big filter in our village in Soviet times. It was built by Germans. It was big and had similar components that Habitat’s filters have –rocks and sand”, Sharif says. “Now we have such a filter in my house. We use it for purifying water from irrigation ditches. It gives crystal fresh water. When I go to work in the field, I always take with me one full bottle of water because it is fresh, clean and very tasty”, he says. Shahrigul is also happy, as the children are less prone to various diseases.

One filter costs 150 dollars and can produce enough water for 2 families. The technology employed by Habitat is simple and effective. But moreover, it is affordable for families like Shahrigul’s who struggle to break from poverty.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects Tajikistan.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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