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Safe House Hold Water supplies in Assiut

© UNICEF-2012-Y.Aql

Camelia Abdel Rahman, a mother of seven and a resident of Bani Ibrahim-a remote hamlet in the deprived Upper Egyptian governorate of Assiut, washes the vegetables for the day's meal using water from a tap that was recently installed at her home.  She is relieved that she will no longer have to make the distant journey several times a day to a friend's house to fetch water for cooking, bathing and drinking.

Collecting water for the family was a tough, time-consuming task for Camelia and her two young daughters (aged seven and five).  The young girls often had to haul water for long distances which also meant missing out on the opportunity of going to school.  Access to clean water has had a large impact on their lives, saving them both time and energy.

"We feel that our lives have changed. Now that I have clean water at home, I have more time to tend to the household chores and my daughters can go to school," said Camelia with a broad smile.

 

Camelia'sis one of more than a hundred and fifty families in the impoverished Assiut governorate who have had safe water connected to their homes inpast two months.

a partnership titled "Raising Healthy Children with Safe Households Water Supply" between Assiut governorate, UNICEF and supported by the Coca Cola Africa Foundation, 1000 households in the governorate’s poorest districts of Abnoob and El Fateh will be provided with safe water connections within one year, benefitting a total of about 5000 community members.

"The project is transforming lives in more than a dozen remote rural communities in Assiut," said General Mohamed Badry, Director of the Assiut Company for Water and Wastewater (ACW/WW).  He lauded the initiative as "a model example of public private partnership."

"At a time of economic difficulty, the government needs the support of the private sector to fulfill its development goals," he said, expressing hope that more investments will be made available to cater to the needs of thousands of poor families still lacking direct connection to the water distribution system.

The project also contributes  to raising hygiene and environment awareness “Convincing people to change their habits is crucial. Classes about better hygiene practices will help promote community health and give residents the tools they need to make the most of their new resources. It is important to teach children at a young age about hygiene and the importance of clean water," Engineer Fathy Mostafa, Director General of Village Development,  Assiut Governorate, noted.

 

Community members in the deprived villages in the Assiut districts of Abnoob and El Fateh contact the City Council with a request to have water connected to their homes. City Council employees however, are not waiting idly by for the requests to come in. They go from door to door in the villages reaching out to the most vulnerable and marginalized families

"Priority is given to the poorest families with children. We carefully review the files that we receive from the City Council often visiting the families ourselves to make sure that they are the most deprived," said Mekky Abdel Alim, Director General of the Assiut Company for Water and Waste water for El Fateh district.

Lack of clean water is one of the major obstacles that people face in the remote Assiut villages.

"We are working to change that, one village at a time.  In the past two months eighty-six households have been connected to the water distribution network providing the poorest families in El Fateh with access to safe water for the first time which also means better health and hygiene for their children," Abdel Alim said.

Water from manual water pumps previously used by some of those under privileged families posed major health hazards to the families and particularly, their children.

© UNICEF-2012-Y.Aql

In the village of Bani Morr in El Fateh district, Haleema, a mother of three, is aware that access to safe water at home will allow her children to lead healthier lives.

"My son had a skin infection caused by bathing in the polluted river.  Now my children can bathe at home anytime and I can also wash their clothes with clean water," she said.

Having water connected to her home has also spared her the humiliation of knocking on people’s doors to ask for water." A lot of people were reluctant to share their water and I’ve been turned away a few times.  It was embarrassing to say the least," she recalled.

"Now, I no longer have to worry about my daughters falling as they balance heavy plastic containers on their heads or about them being harassed when they are off on their own fetching water " her neighbor Ahlam said.

Ahlam makes ropes out of dead plants which she sells in the local market.  Now that she has a water connection at home, Ahlam says that she is able to devote more time to her work and contribute to the family income.

"My husband is a day laborer and is often without work," she explains.  "I don’t want my children to go hungry."

Engineer Anna Shokry, Director General of the Assiut Company for Water and Waste water for the Abnoob district meanwhile expressed hope that the project can be extended to other deprived rural villages in Assiut.

"Gaining access to safe drinking water has raised the self esteem of these families, empowering the village residents to become productive members in their communities," she said.

"I look forward to the day when every family in Assiut has access to clean water," she added.

It's an ambitious target goal but one that can be realizedthe “Raising Healthy Children with Safe Households Water Supply”.

"The need is great butpolitical will and commitment are there," she said with confidence.

to UNICEF, 3,000 children die every day worldwide because of poor water quality and sanitation. UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) was created in 2001 to manage the community investments of the Coca-Cola System in Africa. Over the years, it has invested substantially in the areas of water, preventive health, education and the environment; and continues to partner with credible institutions, leveraging the System’s unparalleled manufacturing and distribution network, to access some of Africa’s most remote locations for community development and numerous disaster relief efforts across the continent.

 

 
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