Indoor Water for a Healthier Winter
15 Dec 2015
In the depths of winter there are few things more uncomfortable than hot running water turning cold, but this is nothing compared to a need to go out into snow and ice to fetch water from a communal pump. Until now, this was a regular part of life for Ms. Ziwar Begjanova – a resident in the isolated Nogai community of Uzbekistan’s Aral Sea region.
“This year’s snow and cold weather won’t disturb us, as we won’t have to bother carrying water to our households from the neighbouring street.” Ms. Begjanova shared with staff from the UN Joint Programme. “This is because from now we will have tap water in our households.”
The UN Joint Programme has worked in Uzbekistan’s far western region to combat the impacts of the Aral Sea disaster, with a primary focus on improving the region’s level of human development. A particular concern in the region is the daily struggle involved in obtaining water for household, farm and business use, and meeting the individual requirements of each village.
In the case of Ms. Begjanova’s home village, and many others in the targeted regions, the development of improved water access was the result of a community development plan established in partnership with the UN joint programme.
Owning Water Access
“Addressing our community’s water shortage has involved not only technical and resource support from the UN Joint Programme, but also our knowledge and understanding of local requirements,” said mahalla (community) leader Mr. Polat Koshkarov “As a result our particular needs were met, and with the right training and continued support, we know that the system in place will stay in place through the coming years.”
Community Development Plans, like that of the Nogai community, have been used successfully by the UN Joint Programme and other initiatives nationwide to tailor development solutions to the needs of individual communities. Each is implemented through a village Initiative Group, in charge of implementing the plan and monitoring its results, and these plans have resulted in positive changes with particular benefits for women.
At the start of the Nogai community’s project, workshops were held at the village that involved local residents discussing prioritization needs and the selection and documentation of water projects in the community. The development plan was then approved by the district khokim (mayor), and was submitted to the UN Joint Programme to ensure its implementation.
The work implemented at the Nogai community involved the installation of a 1.5 kilometer pipeline and individual water outlets in households. As with other similar initiatives the pipeline can be maintained through local skills and abilities.
“We are particularly pleased with the installed water supply network – on a basic level the system serves as a means to get water into households, but beyond that it is also a way to improve hygiene in homes and schools, to minimize burdens of trying to access water supplies from outside the home, and to make our community generally happier and healthier,” Mr. Koshkarov said.
Steps Towards Building Better Lives
Focusing on the human level of development has been a key feature of initiatives undertaken by the UN joint programme, seeking to address the economic, environmental and social impacts of the Aral Sea disaster. Over the past three years the project has worked intensively to ensure that residents in the Aral Sea’s neighbouring regions can live long, fulfilling and healthy lives.
In regards to the development of water resources, the project has implemented eight drinking water supply projects through the installation of pumps and pipelines in remote communities. While targeting select communities, the project has also encouraged knowledge-sharing between between neighbourhoods and further afar.
To date 8 drinking water projects have been established, helping to improve conditions for over 6,500 rural residents. By encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration as a means of expanding project coverage, the UN Programme has made sure the projects implemented can reach the widest possible range of benefactors. Ultimately, it is intended that all the region’s homeowners like Ms. Begjanova can benefit from better water access.
“We are so glad that we have a tap at home, with permanent access to quality drinking water that is no different from the water consumed in city and district centers,” she said.
“Thanks to the project’s implementation, more women can obtain benefits related to the water supply project. This has reduced the time and burden of water carrying, allowing people to spend more time educating their children, which will in turn have benefits for the upcoming generation.”
As a key project undertaken by UNDP Uzbekistan, the UN Joint Programme has helped generate employment opportunities, improve rural livelihoods, introduce business advisory services, facilitate cross-learning and encourage entrepreneurship. In addition to improving the economic wellbeing of people in the region, the UN Aral Sea Programme also helps to address the health and food needs of 130,000 people directly affected by the environmental crisis, while community development plans delivering basic infrastructure and improving social services have indirectly benefited almost 500,000 people. Visit the project page to learn more.
By James Brindley