Bhagul Kehar, residing in village Tarique Khan Khoso in Jacobabad district has a routine practice to travel long distance once or twice daily to fetch water from a watercourse. She belongs to a farmer family. She does not have any option other than traveling long distances to get water from the stream for domestic use. “We take our children together for water and sometimes get tired while carrying utensils on our heads,” she said.
Traditionally she loves to use time purposefully to fix tinny pearls with threads, which have attractive markets in the urban areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Majority of village women, mostly belonging to agriculture and cap manufacturer families, have the similar practice to fetch water from watercourses for domestic use. Recalling the past blissful days, elderly women said they had community wells accessible to all families to get water without any problem. Then they received hand pumps for getting safe water almost 30 years back.
After witnessing strange changes in the water quality they realized they were losing only the source of water, hand pumps. The reason for disrupting water quality is yet to be ascertained by the community. Jacobabad district, which once was the gateway for trade in the region via Afghanistan, Iran, Oman and other Gulf countries, engaging local traders, which had always benefited the city and inhabitants in terms of providing livelihood. Zebul Kehar, another artisan woman has the similar story of getting water from irrigation channels, situated near their scattered abodes in the same village.
Besides working in the agriculture field, she also has multiple skills to make caps and do hand embroidery for the local market to earn a small amount to ease her family. These women in Jacobabad district have expertise in cap making and fine quality embroidery, which are popular in major urban markets of Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Due to water scarcity they always think about the water instead of their traditional entrepreneurship, which is an important source of income for several women. Mumtaz Bozdar of Fast Rural Development Programme (FRDP-Pakistan) said they have helped 340 families in nine villages through installing 229 small hand pumps in Tehsil Thul with the financial support of FRDP International, aiming to benefit the disadvantaged communities.
He said they are careful about the process as individual people have gifted these water pumps, dedicating to their loved ones to benefit the disadvantaged people in the district. Now these women seem happy after receiving safe drinking water near their abodes, he said. They have adapted a participatory approach and put the community people onboard at all levels. The beneficiaries mostly close relatives share the facilities agreeably and get water for their use without any problem. He claims to have applied technology to conduct TDS tests prior to installing each hand pump to avoid any problem. In fact after the installation of hand pumps, these families, both males and females, have realized the importance of safe drinking water and are trying to use it sustainably.
Bozdar said they have motivated women-led households to develop kitchen gardens and cultivate vegetables at their homes to have chemical-free food.
After having worked in Pakistan, FRDP International is now passionate to tackle the root causes of poverty around the world and support grassroots communities.The women narrating the plight said lack of clean drinking water always impacted badly on the health of minor children and they have to pay more share of earning to cure the ailments. Some of these diseases have long term effects on human lives, they said.
In the wide area of the district, underground water is not usable and compelling people to purchase precious commodities through donkey carts to quench thirst. Though newly installed hand pumps look like precious gifts for the people, again it depends on them how to manage it sustainably. Because the reports show that by depleting natural water reserves may leave the rural people vulnerable to face any untoward situation.