The Afghan refugee settlement spans across two sectors (H-12 and I-12) in the capital city of Islamabad and it has been home to more than 5000 refugees for almost 25 years now. For water supply, these people initially relied on the municipality pipelines which were also providing water to nearby urban societies of Islamabad. Due to a gradual increase in urban population and recent developments, the government forcefully banned refugees to take water from these pipelines.
Consequently, now for the supply of water, they primarily rely on three hand-operated wells and a borehole. Due to open defecation and poor hygiene conditions, the underground water table is polluted with fecal contamination and also due to the shallow depth the water from the wells carries a high amount of particulate matter, hence the water from the borehole and wells is tested to be unfit for drinking purposes. Water contaminated with bacteria and pathogens is causing water born illnesses such as Diarrhea, Cholera, Dysentery, and Typhoid and due to the presence of particulate matter cases of kidney stones especially in the children of ages 1-12 have also been reported.
The jerrycans and containers used by the refugees to carry water to their homes from the collection point (borehole and wells) are dirty and due to leakages, they are also among the causes for water contamination. In addition to this because of the poverty, 90% of the community don’t have access to constant supply electricity due to which it is a challenge to install any electrically operated water filter or to install the electric pumps with the wells or boreholes. Based on the situation and causes the problem can be summarized as:
- Water Shortage: Due to the mechanical operation of the wells and the boreholes the supply is inadequate to cater to the needs of a community of more than 5000 refugees.
- Water Quality: Water from the primary sources is highly polluted and is unfit for drinking purposes.
- No Electricity: No feasibility for any electrically operated water filtration or water supply equipment.