Monday, August 24, 2009

Providing water to the driest area of Pakistan

The Tharparket district of Pakistan has many water problems. The area has no rivers, wells are controlled by an elite minority, there is a lot of nasty water, and it's one of the driest parts on the country. A local NGO is teaming up with the United Nations to try to solve the district's water issues.

From the IRIN, we read more of the water project to help the 900,00 people who live in the area.

However, an innovative project by local NGO Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) in conjunction with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Sindh is helping alleviate Tharparker's drought problems.

Following a survey conducted jointly by the UN children's agency (UNICEF) and TRDP in 1998, which identified the potable water issues faced in Tharparker, the concept for the Rain Water Harvest Project (RWHP) was born.

The idea was to enable villagers to collect rainfall, which is generally limited to a short annual monsoon season, store it and use it throughout the year.

"Given decreasing levels of rainfall as well as depleting water tables, it is important that we focus on conservation. RWHP allows us to store drinking water as well as replenish the water table," Jhuman Lalchandani, a senior manager at TRDP's Community Physical Infrastructure Unit, said.

Keeping low cost intervention in mind, RWHP has provided some 1,350 villages and settlements out of 2,100 with underground water storage tanks since 2000.

"At the moment, we have three types of RWH projects, which include rain water harvesting at household levels, also known as cisterns or tankas; at hamlet level ponds are used for saving water for the community; and at the village level we have delay action dams. Also, in low-lying areas, flood protection walls not only save houses from getting flooded but also allow for water to pool up and be used for other purposes," said Lalchandani.

He said the average family of six to seven people in Tharparker needed around 10-12 litres of drinking water a day just for drinking and cooking. The cost of cement and materials to make a cistern with a capacity of about 2,000 litres is less than PKR 1,000 (US$12). Twenty percent of that cost is paid by the household receiving the cistern in the form of in-kind labour over the three to four days in takes to dig and construct a cistern.

"Each house is given a catchment area and from there the rain water is channeled to cisterns. As of June 2009, at the household level RWHP covers 92,415 homes with the number of beneficiaries being 406,833, with 219,896 of them being women," Lalchandani said.

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