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Restoring water supplies in quake-affected Pakistan

© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Asad Zaidi
Children at a camp near Muzaffarabad, Pakistan draw water from one of the large UNICEF-supplied storage tanks. Each tank has a capacity of 700 gallons.

By Kitty Logan

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, 6 January 2006 – Nearly three months after the earthquake that devastated the Pakistan-India border region, UNICEF pursues its relief efforts in the area. The distribution of clean water to affected people remains a priority. Thanks to repair work and temporary supply arrangements, the water needs of nearly 90 per cent of Pakistan’s quake-affected population – including both camp residents and city dwellers – are now being met.

Restoring Muzaffarabad’s water supply

The force of the 8 October 2005 earthquake tore apart the water distribution system in the city of Muzaffarabad. The water treatment plant was also badly hit.

© UNICEF Pakistan/2005/Asad Zaidi
A tanker truck bring water to a camp for earthquake survivors near Muzaffarabad.

But within five days of the quake, local authorities managed to get pumps running again. UNICEF has been supporting ongoing repair work at the plant, which supplies water to a population of more than 150,000. The rehabilitation of the water network in Muzaffarabad means that over 95 per cent of the inhabitants once again have access to safe water.
“UNICEF has assisted both on the advisory side and also on the hardware side, by providing pipes, pumps, fitting and tanks,” says Bent Kjellerup, UNICEF’s water and sanitation specialist in the city, who has been working alongside local authorities. 

Situation in the camps

UNICEF is also helping maintain a temporary water supply in camps for people left homeless by the quake. Tanker trucks bring in water to fill storage vessels on site – a simple system providing easy access for camp inhabitants. 

After the quake, Rabia Bibi left a remote mountain area to live in a temporary camp closer to the resources of the city. “We used to collect our water from the stream,” she says. “When we came here we were dirty and didn’t have enough water to wash. And these people have made this latrine and later they made this water tank for us. Now we have facilities and we’re happy.”

Further improvements, leading to permanent piped water supplies to replace the temporary tanker arrangements, are in the works. UNICEF and its partners have also built close to 10,000 latrines out of a total 16,000 needed.

More than 73,000 people were killed by the October earthquake. Some 3.3 million people are homeless; 1.6-2.2 million children have been affected.

Eric Mullerbeck and Sabine Dolan contributed to this report.




6 January 2006:
UNICEF Correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on the organization’s work to repair Pakistan’s water systems, badly damaged by last October’s earthquake.

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