Water Crisis: Emphasis on self help

Christine Aziz reports on how local schemes are improving water supplies

Driving into Karachi from the airport it's the smell of open drains and sewage that hits you. It worsens as you reach the city centre. After a while you hardly notice it, but it is a powerful reminder that this city has been neglected for years. Strangely, in one of the poorest areas, Orangi, the smell fades and there's hardly an open drain, thanks to the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) and the residents of Orangi.

The Orangi Pilot Project was founded 17 years ago by Akhter Hameed Khan, a former civil servant. It was a unique experiment in urban development with communities organising themselves and investing in their local sewers and then challenging the government to do its part.

Excited by their own potential, Orangi residents with OPP support have since moved on to providing basic health services and health promotion, credit for small family enterprises and education. Impressed by OPP's example of how much poor urban communities can contribute to the development of complex, large-scale infrastructure projects, WaterAid began working with the agency two years ago, initially providing a small amount of funding, particularly for OPP's Research and Training Institute. It is now assisting OPP to replicate its model approach through other non-governmental agencies in cities throughout Pakistan.

The Anjuman-e-Samaji Behbood (ASB) in Faisalabad is one of them. Its manager and co-founder, Altaf Wattoo, has been a community activist since l964. Wattoo says: "This work is my life. I have no sons and daughters - the community is my family."

His organisation covers six communities, including Dhudiwalla, which for decades have suffered from lack of a piped water supply and an efficient sanitation system. In l995 with the help of WaterAid, ASB launched its sanitation programme which, on a self-help basis, will eventually benefit over 14,000 homes.

Mr Wattoo adds: "For the past decade the Faisalabad water situation has been getting worse. We can't drink the water - it is too salty. Women and children have to buy 10 litre cans of drinking water at six rupees each. A family needs at least 20 per day but the people here can't afford it.

"The water authority said we had to wait until 2008 for water to be piped into our neighbourhoods but we weren't prepared to wait.

"Our campaign was getting nowhere until OPP came to help us. I and some others went on an OPP sanitation and water training programme in Karachi and they came to us to help us change our methods of working with the community, which weren't very successful. After careful planning and research we decided to take matters into our own hands.

"After a long struggle, the water authority agreed that we could make a connection to the water main, and one night in November 1995 the residents of Hasanpura Colony began to dig a trench for their own water pipe," Mr Wattoo recalls. "By 5am we had finished 110 ft from the water authority main line. On 17 January we connected our waterpipe to the main line."

The first sanitation programme started in National Colony where 95 per cent of the drains were broken and most open drains were blocked, and there was sewage seepage into the ground water. Thirty households contributed 800 rupees each for the cost of laying a new sewage line and connecting to the local authority main sewage drain.

Haji Mohammed Yousuf, a retired civil servant, is manager of the Hasanpura Colony sanitation programme. It's an ambitious project; a 4,000 ft secondary sewage drain is to be connected to the main government drain and follows a creek into which all the sewage runs. Three men are digging into the layers of mud made up of rubbish and effluent. The smell is sickening. Haji Yousuf says: "It is difficult to get people motivated. They are suspicious and say the government should do it. I start talking to groups of two or three people and steadily increase them until we have three or four streets together. This way works, because people can help themselves. I want it to expand."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis