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Case study: Making water accessible in Pakistan

  • 19 Dec 17

An easy-to-use water pump in Pakistan. Image: ADCAP

Case study

By David Wastell.

Globally, around 15 per cent of the population are living with some kind of disability and an estimated 13 per cent of people worldwide are over the age of 60.  Furthermore, over 46 per cent of those who are over the age of 60 have a disability, meaning they face increased barrier to access and participation.

Older people and people with disabilities make up a growing proportion of communities affected by disasters, yet their particular capacities and needs are often overlooked when planning for and responding to humanitarian crises. The Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) has been working to overcome this by building the capacity of humanitarian organisations so that their response to crises are as inclusive as possible. DEPP has 14 projects across 10 countries and is managed collaboratively by the CDAC and Start Networks, leveraging the international expertise of more than 42 member organisations. Its work on inclusion is implemented through its Age and Disability Capacity project (ADCAP), led by HelpAge International.

One country where DEPP’s work on inclusion can be seen is Pakistan. Due to conflict and instability in the country’s tribal areas, thousands of families have been forced to flee their homes, among them were many older people and people with disabilities. Humanitarian agencies in the Peshawar district have been providing support to small and remote villages like Kotka Musa Khan, where the temporary influx of displaced people has more than doubled the number of residents. 

There were only two hand pumps in this village to provide clean water for 50 households, around 350 people, but neither functioned properly. HelpAge Pakistan had been working with the ACTED aid agency to ensure that such small communities can support the new arrivals and ensure that, for the first time, the needs of older people and people with disabilities are considered from the outset. This has been achieved thanks to the age and disability inclusion training provided as part of the DEPP programme. 

Water collection was identified as a particular challenge for 35 older people and people with disabilities, some of whom were long-standing residents, and others recent arrivals. They were consulted about their needs, and a pump was constructed with a ramp to make access simpler, a rail to hold on to, and a long lever that was easier to pump. 

Shah Daraz Khan, aged 67, who has mobility difficulties and uses a stick, is now able to independently collect water and bring it back by donkey to his wife and family.

“I find the new hand pump easy to use. I’m happy to be able to go to the water point and bring the water back.”

Read more about the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme. 

Read more about the Age and Disability Capacity programme.

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