Balkh IDP township now with clean drinking water for up to 100 families

From yesterday, 100 families of returnees and internally displaced people (IDP) have access to clean drinking water
following the completion of construction of a 1.4 km pipe network and a deep well. The well for the drinking water is located in Nahri Shahi’s internal refugee camp, the township of Qalin Bafan (carpet weavers), near Balkh’s capital Mazar-e Sharif.

Providing access to clean drinking water is one of a number of measures the German government is taking to improve the lives of the township’s inhabitants. It is part of a larger effort to support the Afghan government in long-term solutions for integrating IDPs in host communities.

With the installation of the new well, residents of the carpet weavers township no longer need to travel long distances to collect water from the host community’s wells. This used to be time consuming, difficult in cold winters and also strained relationship with the host community.

As Mr. Haji Ghiyas, community leader, said at the opening ceremony, “We used to get the water from the host community’s well. Due to having to transport the water, it was often unhealthy to drink. The villagers suffered from different diseases, including diarrhoea. The situation was unsustainable. With Germany’s support, we now have a deep well with solar-powered pump systems, so we finally have safe and clean water – free of charge.” Mr. Alexander Fierley, Deputy Consul of Germany to Afghanistan, said, “We are very happy that the construction works are finished and that 650 people, including women and children now have access to drinking water.”

Clean water is a top priority for IDPs and it’s necessary for breaking the cycle of poverty. Polluted water isn’t just dirty; it’s deadly, as unclean water can cause stomach diseases. Education also suffers when children are ill and miss school, just as the economy suffers when people fall sick. Clean water is therefore essential to help IDPs and returnees build up new lives.

However, as the Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Sayed Hussain Halimi Balkhi emphasized yesterday, German support isn’t limited to funding this water network. He said, “Germany has done a lot to assist the Afghan government in finding sustainable solutions for integrating IDPs and returnees. These families here used to live in tents until they recently received proper shelters.” Besides shelters and wells, Germany has built several schools and latrines in various IDP townships in the north, and also offered training in various issues. Afghan-German cooperation will continue its efforts to help the Afghan government address the challenges internal refugees and returnees face.

The new water network is part of an Afghan-German cooperation programme, which supports the Afghan government in integrating internally displaced people in their new communities. With the construction of this pipe network, the provincial government’s capacity to support internal refugees has been strengthened in line with the national strategy. The programme is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Afghanistan.