This Ramadan, WaterAid is inviting supporters to help bring much-needed clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene to schools, communities and healthcare centres in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mali as part of its annual Zakat appeal.
Pakistan is still reeling from the impact of the worst monsoon floods in the country’s history, which affected an estimated 33 million people and threatened access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Shockingly, 1 in 10 people in Pakistan are already living without clean water close to home and 1 in three lack decent sanitation facilities. The changing climate is making things harder for communities living on the frontline, with floods contaminating water sources and droughts drying them up. Without access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene people’s lives are under threat. In fact, more than 19,400 children die every year in Pakistan from illnesses caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
This year WaterAid’s Zakat appeal will bring clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene to communities vulnerable to climate change, so children can stay healthy and whole communities can stay resilient, no matter what the future holds.
WaterAid is working in the climate-vulnerable Muzaffargarh district in Pakistan in the southern part of Punjab province. Community leader Ghulam Fareed, 76, lives in Nuhan Wala village which has been without clean water for 20 years. For this reason, villagers have no choice but to walk 2-3km and rely on a pipeline of water from a sugar mill which offers them water contaminated with sulphur which is dangerous to drink. Sadly, the 2010 floods depleted the quantity and quality of this water.
Ghulam explains the situation:
“I have spent 76 years of my life in this village and my family and other community members had to drink the available water which contains a high level of sulphur…Due to this contaminated water, kidney stones and stomach issues are very common in this area especially in children.”
As part of its Zakat appeal, WaterAid is installing a new water filtration system in Ghulam’s village to provide a clean water supply. Four other water filtration plants have already been built elsewhere in the district to remove contamination from the water sources and the charity has also trained community members to maintain the plants long term. With support from this year’s Zakat appeal, at least 15,000 more people in 10 communities affected by climate change in the Muzaffargarh district will be reached with clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.
“I think that our hard days are over now. Now my grandchildren will witness a new beginning where they have clean drinking water available close to home.”
WaterAid is also working in five schools in the district, aiming to reach 1,000 students with new water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and providing crucial hygiene education sessions to the next generation, enabling even more people to stay healthy.
Ten-year-old role model Bushra from Hussain Jamali Wala has benefitted from these school hygiene education sessions and is sharing her learning with her family, classmates and wider community, encouraging them to follow basic hygiene practices, wash their hands and protect themselves from future infections.
Bushra is excited about her new knowledge and the possibility of realising her dreams:
“These sessions were so engaging…that I got more and more involved…I came to know that the usual kidney and stomach disorders which are very common in our village are due to bad hygiene practices and dirty water.
“When other villagers come to me for any guidance related to hygiene, my parents and even my grandmother take pride in it and tell others that our daughter knows it all!
“I aspire to be a medical doctor when I grow up so that I can treat people in my village who get ill due to poor hygiene practices…”
This Ramadan, donations to WaterAid will help people like Ghulam and Bushra and will fund projects that meet Zakat principles. In Bangladesh, supporters will be able to provide clean water, taps and sanitation facilities in up to 50 Madrassas in the Gaibandha, Sunmgonj and Khulna districts, which are vulnerable to climate change. In Mali donations will help bring these basics to healthcare centres in the Kati and Bla districts, providing new water systems and hygiene training for healthcare workers.
Last year’s Zakat campaign raised more than £181,000. To build on this success, WaterAid will again be partnering with the Emerald Network, the UK’s longest running Muslim professional network, to help reach even more people with the gift of clean water.
Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director, WaterAid Pakistan, said:
“We believe that access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene is a fundamental human right. However, the reality is that around the world 771 million people still lack access to clean water close to home, putting their lives at risk.
“Ramadan is a time to remember compassion and empathy. It’s an opportunity to help ensure everyone, regardless of location or background, has access to these basic human rights.
“Last year, thanks to the generous support of our Zakat donors, we provided vital relief to communities affected by the devastating Pakistan floods. This Ramadan, we invite the public to continue their support so communities can build resilience against a changing climate.
“Access to clean water changes lives and means people can stay healthy, children can go to school and women and girls can take an active role in their communities. By working together we can make lasting change to whole communities – this Ramadan and beyond.”
Find out more and donate: https://www.wateraid.org/uk/donate/zakat