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Afghanistan - ICRC Water and Habitat Activities - January 2002

18-04-2002 Operational Update

These activities, started in 1996, aim to increase the availability of clean water and to reduce the incidence of faecal-oral diseases through the improvement of the traditional latrines and construction of tube wells equipped with hand pumps.

The provision of drinking water and sanitation as well as habitat maintenance and rehabilitation are among ICRC’s core tasks. During war, access to drinking water for populations affected by armed conflict is often one of the biggest challenges as water naturally flows in disregard of frontlines. Because of its scarcity in some regions, water also increasingly becomes the reason over which conflicts take place.

The ICRC Water Sanitation and Habitat programme began in August 1996, in Kabul. Its aim is to increase the availability of clean water and to reduce the incidence of faecal-oral diseases through the improvement of the traditional latrines and construction of tube wells equipped with hand pumps. This programme is carried out on both, the individual and the community level. The scourge of diarrhoea, considered the main cause of infant mortality, is targeted for mitigation.

 Water and Habitat in Kabul:  

During the recent bombing, Kabul's main water supply networks were damaged and the people faced severe problems of water shortage in the city. The ICRC water engineers conducted repairs allowing the people access to drinking water. The ICRC with the co-operation of the local community, was able to repair and rehabilitate the following projects in different parts of Kabul city:

  • emergency repairs of 600 mm transmission line in Afshar water supply network, resuming the water supply to about 350'000 people

  • rehabilitation of the electric system of the Karte-Parwan wells, serving 50'000 persons

  • rehabilitation of 250 and 100 mm distribution lines and valve chamber in Microrayon water supply project , resuming the water supply to about 150'000 people

  • repair of several submersible pumps in the city water supply projects (University bore hole, Afshar wells, Khair Khana, etc.)

  • deepening of the New Ali Abad hospital well

  • improvement of the waste water evacuation of the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital

  •  Emergency assistance and Winterisation  

Kabul is among the most war ravaged cities in Afghanistan. After 20 years of fighting, life in the densely populated southern districts has become more and more difficult for average people. In addition, the winter season further complicates the lives of the already destitute citizens. With the above details in mind, the ICRC carried out a survey to identify the most vulnerable families. Based on its findings, the ICRC has launched an emergency assistance programme, divided in four parts:

  •  Water  

Out of 220 damaged hand-pumps surveyed by the ICRC in December 2001, 170 need mechanical maintenance and repair carried out by the ICRC. For the other 50, it is the water table level that has gone below th e pumping level, rendering the pumps unproductive.

  •  Shelter winterisation programme  

10’000 destitute families in Kabul districts 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are being provided with one    sandali (a low table placed in the centre of the room with a slow-burning charcoal fire underneath),   two bags of charcoals (100 kg), two blankets and a sheet of plastic.

  •  Assistance to schools, clinics, orphanages     

 Bukharies (Local stoves ), fuel as well as firewood, plastic sheets or glass are provided to institutions locate in Kabul districts 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

  •  Solid waste disposal collection programme  

In the ICRC assisted districts of Kabul, the solid waste accumulated during the last months is being collected and transported to selected dumping sites identified by the Kabul Municipality.

 Water and Habitat in Bamyan:  

Major rehabilitation of the Bamyan Hospital is underway since December 2001. The work on the surgical ward was completed, and an operation was recently performed for the first time in the last several years. The electricians are on the last stages of connecting all areas of the hospital.

 Water and Habitat in Mazar-i-Sharif:  

In order to improve sanitation and living conditions in prisons and referral hospitals in northern districts, water trucking and rehabilitation of pumps, latrines and cells were/are being carried out. In the meantime, construction of five community wells continue in Dar-i-Suf where exists a large concentration of IDP population.

 Water and Habitat in Herat:  

Between January and March 2002, the ICRC assists the Municipal authority of Herat to maintain the distribution of water to the estimated 240,000 residents in the city. The fuel are being delivered to operate the electrical generators supplying the 8 submersible pumps installed in the boreholes for 8 hours a day, and the 3 booster pumps for 3 hours a day. In addition, tools which allow minimum maintenance as well as food allowance were provided to the pump operators.

 Water and Habitat in Jalalabad:  

Construction of a septic tank and rehabilitation of the x-ray room for the Jalalabad Public Health Hospital-1 of 400 beds were recently completed. Meanwhile, a survey was conducted in order to start repair of the water supply network of Jalalabad, which allows water supply to 15,000 more families in the vicinity.

 Water and Habitat in Kandahar:  

Replacement of a large number of windows in the surgical ward of Mirwais Hospital was completed in late January 2002. The windows were broken during the bombing campaign. In the meantime, a minor repair was carried out to 2 switch boards connected to one of several water pumps exist in Kandahar. Furthermore, a submersible pump in the Spin Boldak Hospital was installed. The hospital serves as a referral hospital for over 40,000 Internally displaced people living in five camps in the surrounding area.