KHOVALING, Tajikistan (June 8, 2005) -- For decades residents of Kuldara, a village nestled in the remote mountainous region of Khovaling, Tajikistan, hauled water on their shoulders from the bottom of a gorge, up a steep 800 meter high slope, to their homes. Now, thanks in part to a new water project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by Counterpart International, this arduous task is no longer necessary. Water flows right into the center of the village.
People who can fill their bath tubs at the touch of a button may have difficulty appreciating the high spirits at the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the water tap in Kuldara last month.
Counterpart International Tajikistan team leader, Dale Dunivan, and his staff joined government officials and neighbors from surrounding villages, to gather in Kuldara and share this momentous occasion with the local residents. Celebrations continued throughout the day while Kuldara villagers reveled in the splendid sound and taste of clean running water.
The USDA funded the Counterpart project in partnership with the Community Organization of Kuldara Village and many hardworking villagers, who dug seven kilometers of trenches and installed piping from a mountain spring. This was the fourth and, finally, successful attempt to bring water to this remote village.
The project was a collaborative effort with the villagers who provided all the labor, working everyday, including through the duration of the Ramadan Fast last fall. Severe winter weather caused numerous delays with pipe-laying, exacerbated by a local bear that apparently enjoyed digging up the pipe. Finally, all the hard work paid off. "Counterpart has made our dream of water come true," says Jumakhon Hamidov, Chairman of Community Organization of Kuldara Village.
In case of future thirsty bears, the project included an extra 25 ton water tank to be stored and used during shortages so that the village can maintain a sustainable supply year round.
Dale Dunivan gave credit where credit was due, remarking that the project was a collaborative effort between the people of Kuldara and Counterpart International, with the support of the American people. "We are very happy to help make this dream come true for a village with much needed, clean spring water," he added.
In this particular village, Counterpart has already conducted various trainings on the topic of waterborne diseases, as well as on other health, hygiene and sanitary issues, but this project, affecting over 400 people has the widest reach.
Counterpart International's Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Program has been working in Tajikistan for the past year, with support from USDA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The water project is part of USDA's Food for Progress "FACT" program in Tajikistan.
Counterpart's Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture unit is dedicated to enhancing the resilience of the world's most vulnerable populations affected by disease, hunger, and conflict. They achieve this through community-driven programming in Nutrition and Agriculture, emphasizing responses to HIV/AIDS. They express their solidarity with their participants' search for dignity, treating them as full partners in the joint struggle to achieve a more just world.