In October 2009, USAID and implementing partner, ME&A, initiated the Tajikistan Safe Drinking Water Project (TSDWP), a program designed to bring access to safe drinking water and health and hygiene education to rural communities in Tajikistan. Health education training was provided to all members of the community, including the children, some of whom became Child-to-Child methodology trainers, teaching others about the importance of good health and hygiene. Now, two years later, the training has had a dramatic impact on the quality of life for residents in the region. Those most directly affected by the project are undoubtedly the women and girls who are tasked with finding and fetching water for their families on a daily basis.
Global Waters Representative Ramzia Mamadnazarova recently interviewed three Tajik women: Jumagul Olimova, Surayo Rajabova, and Hafiza Murodova. They spoke of the program’s effect on their families, daily routines, and health. Here are excerpts from those interviews:
Global Waters: As a mother and homemaker, what do you consider to be the major health problems facing your family and your village?
Hafiza: The last three years, all my children had problems with diarrhea and in our village there were a lot of people who had hepatitis.
Surayo: The biggest problem in my village is that we don’t have a drain system for sewage and there are a lot of flies, so it may cause disease for people.
GW: How did you become aware of the safe drinking water project in your village?
Jumagul: We had several meetings with representatives of the project who explained it to us.
GW: Were you involved in any aspects of the safe drinking water project?
Jumagul: Yes, I’m a volunteer trainer for community citizens and we organized several trainings on prevention of waterborne diseases in our community. Also, last year I was involved in the organization of the Global Health Day on our street and we celebrated it here with children through performances of plays about good health and hygiene.
Hafiza: Yes, I am enthusiastic and have volunteered to become one of the Citizen Trainers in our community and have already conducted training on prevention of waterborne diseases and hygiene promotion.
Surayo: I try to be involved in all trainings but my daughter is more involved, as she is a Child to Child Methodology trainer and always shares with us what she is doing.
GW: What did you learn from the health education training?
Hafiza: We have learned about personal hygiene and prevention of diarrhea, hepatitis, and typhoid.
GW: In what ways, if any, has this new learning changed the way that you do things?
Jumagul: As I have a large family and I have 19 grandchildren and most of them are living with me, now I always make sure that they wash their hands with soap and do not drink unsafe water.
GW: Have your children participated in any of the health education training? What do you believe they learned?
Hafiza: My children participated in all health education sessions that were conducted in school. I’m happy to say that now they always pay attention to their personal hygiene and don’t want to be sick, because they have already had diarrhea and they know how difficult it is to have such diseases.
Jumagul: Of course, after several trainings we know how to prevent diseases just by following simple rules: washing your hands with soap and do not drink unsafe water. Last year in our community I personally observed a lot of diarrhea but this year it seems like I don’t see any. Our community is not so big, and we are always aware of diseases in our community, and help each other if there are any health problems in families.
GW: Can you see any concrete results from the safe drinking water project in your village?
Hafiza: It is very important for our community to have safe drinking water. Before, we were busy with fetching water from another village and our children were not supervised, they used to drink unsafe water while they mothers were not there, and therefore there were a lot of diseases. Now, after participating in health education trainings, most of our children are aware about infections and they don’t want to be sick any more, especially during summer vacations.
GW: Can you describe a typical day before you had access to water and a typical day now?
Jumagul: Before, we didn’t have water in our community, so every morning before breakfast we had to go to another village for fetching the water, which took two hours of my time. And we couldn’t carry enough water for the whole day, so after lunch we had to go there again. Everyday we spent five hours or more hauling water. It was very hard to lift all these heavy plastic containers during the very hot summertime and very cold winters. Our poor children were helping us on this all the time and they didn’t have time for their schoolwork or playing. Children should have a chance to play and not to work all the time.
As for now, I’m so happy to have water in my community, I enjoy the time that I used to spend fetching water. My grandchildren have more time for doing their schoolwork and playing.
Hafiza: Before having the water system, I was terribly tired from fetching water all the time and not having time to take of my small children and couldn’t do my small baking business, properly. I spent half of my day just for collecting the water and bring it from another village. As for now, I have more extra time, and can take care of my kids and do my small business to help my family instead of fetching water.
Surayo: Before having the water system in my village, my typical day started very early with fetching water from another village. It was difficult for me, as I’m not so young, and sometimes I had painful problems with my spine. I had to bring water 3-4 times per day, and I was so busy with fetching water I didn’t have time to do any other household work. Now, having water, I can afford to read books and to do crewel for sale and to do a small business.
Water is the source of life, and with providing the water to our community your project gave us new life.
Last updated: September 25, 2013