Access to clean water in Afghanistan is a challenge for the majority of the citizens. The situation in rural Afghanistan, however, is much direr. With approximately 80 percent of the country’s population living in rural areas, the fact that only 20 percent of this segment of the population, in contrast to 27 percent in the cities, has access to sanitary water supplies could shed some light on the scope of the challenge of providing access to clean water and sanitation in Afghanistan.
According to UNICEF-WHO joint monitoring report 2015, 68 percent of Afghans don’t have access to improved sanitation and nearly 15 million, 45 percent use un-improved water sources.
The provinces with higher intensity of conflict are the ones with poor WASH indicators. Safe hygiene behaviors like hand washing with soap is practiced by less than 30 percent of the people in 24 out of 34 provinces. As a result disease like diarrhea that has strong association with chronic malnutrition among children is a matter of concern.
Another challenge the flee of population or displacement due to continuation of conflict as well as the returning of refugees from Pakistan and Iran the people often live in crowded sputters in cities or makeshift shelters in marginal lands with limited or no WASH facilities as a result people often use unprotected and distant water sources and practice open defecation. These condition compromise the dignity of women and girls, put them at risk of harassment, and expose people to life-threatening diseases including outbreaks of acute diarrhea, cholera, ARI, and measles, especially to young children and sick and elderly people. Returnees and IDPs also cause additional pressure on local health facilities that provide essential life-saving health and nutrition interventions and in absence of reliable WASH services the effectiveness of services in these facilities is further compromised. According to OCHA lead HEAT survey of sept, 2016, 70 percent of the 5,934 returnee and IDP families assessed in eastern region lack container for water storage and have not proper hygiene material.
Rural Rehabilitation Association for Afghanistan (RRAA) has been involved in delivering WASH services in different provinces of Afghanistan, and in order to facilitate safe drinking water and to improve sanitary condition in the targeted communities will continue to work in this sector for its strategic period of 2018-2021.