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Azerbaijan: ICRC helps provide clean drinking water

06-09-2011 Feature

A shortage of drinking water is making life even harder for people in Azerbaijani frontline villages already suffering the effects of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. Since 2008, the ICRC has been upgrading the water supply system in villages close to the “Line of Contact.” Gaziyan, a village in Terter region, is one of those benefiting from the project. More than 140 houses in the village now have safe drinking water, thanks to work carried out by the ICRC in cooperation with local authorities and community members.

Seven standpipes transform village life

The scarcity of water in Terter has always made it difficult for the people of Gaziyan to get enough clean water. As a result, they have often had to use unhealthy water sources. The Nagorny Karabakh conflict exacerbated the problem, as Gaziyan’s water source is right next to the front line and is the target of frequent shootings. Now, the ICRC has installed a borehole, a water tank and seven standpipes, improving the quality of the life for the people of Gaziyan. The women and children who do most of the water collecting no longer spend two to three hours a day fetching water from the distant water point.

Making mum’s job easier

A young woman busy washing her children’s clothes by the standpipe talked to us about the benefits the water points had brought her family. Matanat explained: “I have two small children, and taking care of them without water is difficult or impossible. Until a few months ago, I had to walk two kilometres every day to fetch water for drinking, cooking, washing and feeding the livestock. There were times when I had to leave my children on their own, and then I was worried about them all the way. Winter was even worse – we were sick and tired of carrying water along a long and slippery road. Now I can use as much water as I need and I can spend more time with my children.” The young woman thanked the ICRC and hurried off home.

Good news for young and old

The water project has also improved the living conditions of Almaz Khanum, an elderly lady who takes care of her wheelchair-bound son. ”I’d never have believed that one day I’d have a tap right outside my house,” she tells us. “This water project has done more for me than for anyone else in the village. My son is disabled, and I can’t give him the special care he needs without water. I always had to be careful how much I used, but now I can relax a bit. Before, I had to fetch tens of litres of water every day and store it in jerrycans. The daily two-kilometre trip was too much for me, so we often had to buy water from private water carriers, which cost us around AZN 40 [approx. USD 50] per month. So as well as saving time and effort, this water is saving me a lot of money.” Almaz Khanum says that uninterrupted and safe access to water is encouraging villagers to consider installing bathrooms in every house. “We’re just waiting for the day when water is piped directly to our houses.”

The young benefit as much as the old. Gaziyan schoolboys Dilgam and Intigam tell us “We were spending two or three hours a day carrying water. Now there are all these tapstands, we’ve got loads more time for school and sports!”

Running water in every home?

As a result of the ICRC project, the local council has decided to connect all houses to the water main. Siluddin Alekperov heads the local municipality. “The water board has already begun studies with a view to bringing water to every house. The study is due to be complete by the end of August 2011,” he explains. “And the board is going to install meters so that people don’t waste water.” Villagers would not only have the convenience of mains water, but would also be saving money. “Depending on how much water a family uses, they’ll be spending about AZN 0.50 [USD 0.60] per month on water. There’s just no comparison between that and the AZN 40 they used to spend. They’ll be able to use the money they save to cover some of their other needs.”


Photos

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. Staff proudly apply an ICRC logo to the new water tank. 

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. Staff proudly apply an ICRC logo to the new water tank.
© ICRC

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. A family talks about how safer access to water has improved their lives. 

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. A family talks about how safer access to water has improved their lives.
© ICRC

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. Life is much easier for these schoolboys and their grandmother now that they have a tapstand in front of their house. 

Gaziyan, Terter, Azerbaijan. Life is much easier for these schoolboys and their grandmother now that they have a tapstand in front of their house.
© ICRC