UNICEF brings safe drinking water to displaced families in Tajikistan
More than 3,000 people displaced by last year’s severe flooding and mudslides in southern Tajikistan now enjoy the benefits of safe drinking water, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and regional government agencies.
The flooding, which affected two thirds of the country, displaced thousands of people, some of them permanently. Families lost their homes, cattle and belongings in the disaster and were forced to settle in villages lacking water or adequate sanitation facilities.
Now this new infrastructure is bringing safe drinking water directly to every house in one affected village in the Khuroson district of the country, UNICEF reported yesterday.
“Safe drinking water is critical for children’s survival and development, particularly in the aftermath of disasters,” said Hongwei Gao, the agency’s representative in Tajikistan. “Without drinking water and sanitation, diarrhoea and waterborne diseases spread quickly, affecting significantly the lives of children and women.”
Before the new water supply system was built, these people – mostly children – fetched drinking water from neighbouring villages and used water from irrigation ditches for washing and other needs. Children often drank water directly from these ditches.
This is particularly concerning given the risk of water contamination whenever communities collect water at a shared water point and transport it home to store for use. UNICEF has found considerable evidence that household access to safe drinking water prevents such contamination.
The agency responded by providing affected families with water tanks and jerry cans for storage, temporary latrines and washing facilities, water purification, hygiene and disinfection means.
In advance of constructing the new water supply system, the agency mobilized local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to educate displaced families about hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap.
Construction of the water supply system in Shokhrukh was financially supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department and UNICEF.