Afghanistan

United Nations provides safe water for the people of Afghanistan

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12 January 2010 - The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) is in the process of providing safe piped water to the residents of Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.

Following a request from the water supply department of Nangarhar and the urgency for safe water, UN-HABITAT, with the financial support of the Japan Community Empowerment and Development for Peace and Building organization, led the construction of a unique reservoir on a high hill in the city's vicinity.

The total cost of the project is expected to be US$ 1,800,000.

The taps run dry at Karimullah's house, which is why the 38-year-old teacher from Jalalabad, needs to bring water from his neighbour's well. The water is often not clean and safe.

"My residence is not very far from the centre of the city, but I have no access to piped water because of shortages and the lack of electricity," said Karimullah.

"This reservoir construction project is a vital and unique project. It is the only hope for us to have access to safe pipe water in our houses ... and schools," he added.

Nazar Muhamad, 30, a site engineer for UN-HABITAT's Water Supply Project in Nangarhar, says they are working hard to complete the construction work of the water reservoir by March 2010.

"This is the first safe drinking water reservoir in Afghanistan, being constructed with a new design. It will have a capacity of 5,000 cubic metres," added engineer Nazar.

Engineer Abdul Khalil Ahmadi, National Project Manager for UN-HABITAT in Nangarhar said the project includes a total of 18 sub-projects, such as six Tube/Deep wells, 3,800 metres of pipeline network, installation of water pumps, electricity supply, construction of a guard room and an administrative building.

Afghanistan has witnessed a major building boom in the last eight years. Beside roads, schools and clinics and intakes, safe drinking water is being provided by UN agencies and international organizations working in Afghanistan, a country where only 23 per cent of the population has access to the safe drinking water, and 12 per cent to safe sanitation.

By Shafiqullah Waak, UNAMA