Restoring Water Supplies in quake-affected areas
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.
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.
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.