Afghans in Kabul abhor struggle for water

August 7th, 2011 - 11:22 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, Aug 7 (IANS) Besides the raging war against the Taliban, residents of the Afghan capital loathe one more aspect of their life — their appalling daily struggle for water!

Most water bodies in and around Kabul have either become dry or in the verge of becoming one, and the erratic potable water supply isn’t helping the city’s 3.5 million people either.

A natural lake called Col-e-Hashmat Khan in southern Kabul was once a favourite bird hunting spot, now it is gradually turning dry. It is today surrounded by mud houses, shops and huts. Locals use is it for washing and quencing thirst.

“Water cannot come to home so we come here to get the water,” said Dil Agha, an Afghan teenager, who fetch water from a well in a slum in southern Kabul.

The 13-year-old boy who lives with his family in a nearby hill told Xinhua that they face acute shortage of drinking water.

“It costs me too much to buy water and take shower at home. It is very difficult to carry water to my home. I come here in scorching hot weather to take water home.”

According to media reports, only 48 percent of the country’s 26 million population have access to safe drinking water, and just 37 percent of them could use improved sanitation facilities.

Eighty percent of the population in Kabul live in unplanned settlements where they lack access to potable water and improved sanitation facilities. Besides, natural water sources are increasingly becoming contaminated.

Rich people use purified water bottles, while the poor live on contaminated water supplied through underground pipes.

Water supply systems acorss the country were damaged due to decades of war and civil strife in Afghanistan.

In most Afghan villages, there is no pipe water supply, and residents, mainly women, have to travel miles daily to fetch water from sources that are often hygienic, Xinhua reports.

Drought and protracted war also added to environmental problems. Air pollution has contributed to underground water contamination.

Head of Afghan Environment Directorate Mustafa Zahir said 68 percent of Kabul’s underground water is contaminated.

“Living condition would become impossible within the next seven years if the air pollution continues in Kabul and other major towns,” he said during a seminar in Kabul.

Although there is no official statistics, it is believed that some eight million Afghans live under poverty and survive on just one dollar income daily.

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