Bringing Clean Drinking Water to 5000 Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

Project History

Sectors (H-12 and I-12) in the capital city of Islamabad and it has been home to more than 5000 refugees for almost 25 years. Initially they relied on municipality pipelines which were also providing water to nearby urban societies of Islamabad which now is forcefully banned by the government for these people due to gradual increase in urban population.

Major Challenges

The Afghan refugee settlement spans across two sectors (H-12 and I-12) in the capital city of Islamabad and it has been home to more than 5000 refugees for almost 25 years now. For water supply, these people initially relied on the municipality pipelines which were also providing water to nearby urban societies of Islamabad. Due to a gradual increase in urban population and recent developments, the government forcefully banned refugees to take water from these pipelines. Consequently, now for the supply of water, they primarily rely on three hand-operated wells and a borehole. Due to open defecation and poor hygiene conditions, the underground water table is polluted with fecal contamination, and also due to the shallow depth the water from the wells carries a high amount of particulate matter, hence the water from the borehole and wells is tested to be unfit for drinking purposes. Water contaminated with bacteria and pathogens is causing water-born illnesses such as Diarrhea, Cholera, Dysentery, and Typhoid and due to the presence of particulate matter cases of kidney stones especially in children of ages 1-12 have also been reported. The jerrycans and containers used by the refugees to carry water to their homes from the collection point (borehole and wells) are dirty and due to leakages, they are also among the causes for water contamination. In addition to this because of the poverty, 90% of the community don’t have access to constant supply electricity due to which it is a challenge to install any electrically operated water filter or to install the electric pumps with the wells or boreholes. Based on the situation and causes the problem can be summarized as:

  1. Water Shortage: Due to the mechanical operation of the wells and the boreholes the supply is inadequate to cater to the needs of a community of more than 5000 refugees.
  2. Water Quality: Water from the primary sources is highly polluted and is unfit for drinking purposes.
  3. No Electricity: No feasibility for any electrically operated water filtration or water supply equipment.

Our Solution

Construction of two new-boreholes The construction of new boreholes (Depth: 90-110 ft) will help to mitigate the problem of water shortage being faced by the refugee community. As compared to the already present water wells the boreholes are although expensive but will solve the following problems:

  1. The wells are seasonal but the boreholes are not | Hence a constant and an abundant water supply.
  2. The shallow depth of wells make water more prone to fecal and particulate contamination, however, the water from the boreholes is 60% cleaner and contains no particulate matter | Hence more clean water for domestic use and longer life of the portable filters because of lesser maintenance required in case of comparative cleaner water.
Dissemination of Portable off-grid water Filters

The filters to be distributed, through their excellent technical attributes will help to solve a number of problems:

  1. The filters work without any power requirement hence cater to the problem of no electricity in the refugee settlement.

  2. The filters employ very efficient hollow fiber membrane technology and are tested by “SGS

  3. International” to remove 99.9999% of all the bacterial contamination; the major cause of the Diarrheal outbreaks and other waterborne disease in the settlement.

  4. Each individual filter has the capacity to filter 400,000 Liters of water. Each individual filter can deliver a flow rate of 1 Liter/minute (55-60 Liter in 1 hr time).

  5. Plug and Play and simple maintenance through a backwashing plunger will help the illiterate refugees to use and maintain the filters over a longer period of time.
Distribution of Clean Jerrycans and Training to use and maintain the filters During the distribution of the (120) filters and Jerrycans which will be done in 4 phases (30 households at a time) the young boys, girls and mothers from each household will be trained for proper use and maintenance of the filters and they will also be educated to adopt practices to keep the jerrycans clean in order to use them solely for drinking purposes.

  1. One Household (One family) = 3 small interconnected mud houses with an avg of 35 to 40 members.
  2. 1 Filter with Jerrycan = Delivers 100 Liter/day of clean drinking water sufficient for 40 people based on 7 liters & NAM-national academy of medicine) for an individual.
  3. 120*40= Clean drinking water for approximately 4500 to 5000 people for at least 3 to 4 years (based on the 400,000 Liter total filtration capacity).

Memories from Afghan refugee camp