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Filtering out cycles of poverty

By Rachael Adams | 15 May 2020

Azmir* is a community leader in northern Afghanistan. The main water source in this area is a dam. Villagers have no choice but to use this water – to drink, wash and cook with – even though it is causing serious health problems.

‘People had a lot of problems with children getting diarrhoeal diseases,’ Azmir says. ‘We live in a mountainous area and the health clinic is far away. When the condition of the child worsens, parents are forced to go to the doctor, but on the way the child could die of dehydration.’

This is a painful decision for any parent or caregiver to have to make.

Cycles of despair
Diarrhoea is the leading cause of death in children under five. Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoea every year, killing 525,000 children under five. It is both preventable and treatable.

Unclean water traps people in cycles of poverty. It causes sickness and disease which mean people cannot hold down jobs, children miss out on school, and families face soaring healthcare costs to survive.

It’s why Tearfund’s local partner worked with Azmir’s community to come up with a solution.

Change is coming
The roads leading to Azmir’s community were then destroyed by disasters, including heavy snowfall, floods and landslides. This made it impossible for our partners to reach them.

But our partner’s plans to help the community access clean water weren’t abandoned. People weren’t forgotten.

As soon as the roads were cleared Tearfund's local partners were able to set up a distribution point to serve eight villages in the community. People came from all over to receive this help – some travelling for as long as six hours on donkeys or horses over rough terrain.

Tearfund’s partners gave filters to families so that people could finally have access to safe water. People also received training on how to use the filter and maintain it, to empower people to own this solution.

‘We were taught how to prevent the dehydration of babies and children,’ says Azmir. ‘And we all shared this information with our relatives and neighbours in our village.’

Our partners also led hygiene awareness training, including sharing information on the importance of handwashing.

Tearfund's local partner delivering training to Azmir's community.

Tearfund's local partner delivering training to Azmir's community.

A fresh start
Something as simple as a water filter has helped communities to protect themselves from disease and preventable deaths caused by unsafe drinking water, but the work is by no means complete.

An estimated 844 million people around the world still do not have access to clean water. We’re doing all we can to make sure communities like Azmir’s have the best chance of overcoming poverty.

And that starts with clean water.


*Name has been changed to protect identity.

This article references events that took place before the coronavirus crisis.

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Written by Rachael Adams

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