Providing the source of life

Published: 11 August 2011 16:58 CET

By Ganjina Bobokulova

In many areas of the world, access to basic health care is limited and a lack of clean water and adequate sanitation exposes children to serious, but preventable, illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 60 per cent of all infectious diseases in Tajikistan are caused by poor access to safe drinking water.

In 1997, the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan (RCST) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) began undertaking water and sanitation activities in the country, with the aim of providing the population with safe drinking water and increasing their understanding of hygiene issues.

Karakhon Ahmadshoev, a member of the Water Users Committee, said the use of water from irrigation ditches and rivers often led to outbreaks of infectious diseases. “Women and children walk an average of 2-3km per day to fetch water, which causes great difficulties in winter, increases the number of cases of injuries among children, and negatively impacts on their school attendance,” he said.

One project had a big impact on the town of Sattor Ashur, north Tajikistan, where the local population have not had access to safe drinking water for the last 15 years.  In one family of seven, all members were often sick with infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea and dysentery, because of non-compliance with sanitation and hygiene rules, and a substantial part of the family’s income was spent on treatment and medicines.

The father of the family took part in a one-day workshop on hygiene carried out by the TRCS under the water and sanitation programme with information and training provided by volunteers. Over the last seven months, none of the children has fallen sick.

Elena Lyapina, RCST water and sanitation programme coordinator, said: “We implemented our water and sanitation projects in districts that did not have any trees or plants. After the pipeline was laid, you started to see changes. The population began to cultivate agricultural products and plant trees. This has had a strong impact on the social conditions of the population,” she said.
“I am pleased to work for the Red Crescent, because I can really see the results of my work. It inspires me and I work hard to see an improvement in the lives of vulnerable people. And by helping communities to take more responsibility for their own health care, I try to make a difference for tomorrow.”

Since the programme was launched, the RCST has implemented 160 projects under the water and sanitation programme in GBAO, Sughd, Khatlon provinces, and Direct Rule Districts. More than half a million people in rural communities now have access to safe drinking water, leading to a significant reduction of the rate of infectious water-borne diseases, especially amongst women and children.

Share this