Water tap for New Year

Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program

Dalia Younis
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
19 May 2022

It might be hard to imagine that a place only 100 km away from the heart of modern Cairo lacks  access to water. In this photo essay, we explore the story of one of the families residing in a village who has just got one of the most basic needs fulfilled in 2022: access to safte drinkable water at home.

In Egypt, the issue of water scarcity is taken very seriously by the government as a major challenge now and for the years to come.“The water issue is a pivotal issue in the field of achieving sustainable development, which requires increased cooperation and exchange of experiences between different countries of the world in the field of water,” said Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti in his speech at the Planet Budapest 2021 Sustainability Expo and Summit.

Egypt is facing an annual water deficit of around seven billion cubic metres and the country could run out of water by 2025, and climate change is a key part of the problem.

Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
Basmala, Jana, Mahmoud and Abd El-Salam are siblings living in a village in Fayoum (South Egypt). This village is one of the poorest in the governorate. With very few job opportunities, most of the village's men left their families to work in larger cities.
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
In Egypt, the water company in each governorate is in charge of the infrastructure bringing water to the streets. However, the water pipes bringing water to the houses should be paid for by the families, who sometimes cannot afford it, especially in poor villages. Because their family couldn't afford setting up a water connection at home, these four children had to fetch water every day for the house consumption.
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
At the end of day, they used to carry many dirty dishes to the nearby water canal. Sometimes they turned it to a fun water activity, but outdoor dishwashing at the cold weather or long walks with heavy dishes under the burning sun were not the most pleasant experiences to children at their age.
Children in conflict with the law are trained on blacksmithing as an alternative to detention
UNICEF/Egypt/2022/Ahmed Emad
For drinking, they used to go to more 'privileged' neighbors who have water taps in their houses, asking them to fill the small tanks they can carry back home. Sometimes, the neighbors would even deny their request because "the water bill was too high last month, and they can't afford that this month".
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
In January 2022, they received an unexpected New Year gift: a tap at home. Thanks to the cooperation between UNICEF, the Fayoum Water Company and “Hayah Karima” initiative, their family finally got the opportunity to benefit from the revolving fund: an interest-free loan system that offers families a coverage for the 2,000 Egyptian pounds (almost $130) needed to connect their house to the water and sanitation infrastructure in the village.
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Mostafa
Their father will pay for the water connection on equal installments for 24 months. Each month, when the water company collects the monthly installments, the reimbursed money is 'revolved' as a loan to another family.
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
This family is among thousands in Fayoum, Minia and Asyut who has safe water access supported by UNICEF’s “Revolving Fund” WASH program. UNICEF initially funded water companies in these governorates with 3.75 million Egyptian pounds (equivalent to almost 190,000 dollars) to start the loans. Thanks to this innovative idea that started in 2016, 3000 families were able to have drinkable water at their households.
Children get water access at home for the first time in 2022 thanks to UNICEF innovative 'revolving fund' program
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Ahmed Emad
Many families are still waiting for such relief. In cooperation with the national initiative "Hayah Karima" (Dignified Life), UNICEF plans to implement the revolving fund concept in hundreds more villages, yet more funds are needed to accelerate the access of almost 45,000 families to household drinkable water and 225,000 sewage connections in these villages.