Community Spirit Triumphs: How a Village in Okara District Solved Its Water Woes
Zahid Sharif, president of the Wash Committee in 40 D village, is a man on a mission. "I believe that every person deserves access to clean water," he says. "It's not just a basic necessity; it's a fundamental human right." says Zahid.
Zahid's village, located in Depalpur Tehsil of Okara District in Pakistan, was suffering from the effects of contaminated water. "The TDS level of water was at an alarming 3000 PPM. Generally, the TDS level between 50-200 is suitable. Imagine that!!!! People of our village were drinking poison," he recalls. "We had to do something about it."
With the funding from PepsiCo and technical support of WaterAid, and its implementing partner Doaba Foundation, Zahid and his team installed a Water Filtration plant. But they knew that simply starting the project wasn't enough. “We wanted to do it in a sustainable way that would benefit everyone and create economic opportunities as well." explains Zahid.
"I had seen water filtration plants in other villages, but they were not successful," Zahid recalls. "They were expensive to maintain, and the community was not involved in their operation and maintenance. When the external support ended, the plants were abandoned, and the people were left without access to safe water."
“WaterAid supported our vision. Our vision was to provide safe and sustainable access to clean water in our community through a social entrepreneurship model that would benefit everyone and create economic opportunities as well. With our model, we involved the community from the very beginning," Zahid explains. "WaterAid trained us on how to operate and maintain the water filtration plant and helped establish a WASH committee to oversee its operations.
To make the service accessible to all, Zahid and the WASH Committee came up with an innovative solution. "We decided to buy a rickshaw on installments to offer door-to-door water services," he explains. "People now pay 500 Rupees, monthly, this covers our operation and transport cost”.
I wanted to make it easier for women, elderly, and people with disabilities to access clean water, so we decided to offer door-to-door services. It's important to me that everyone in our village feels valued and supported
The response was overwhelming. "Almost 180 households have registered for our door-to-door water service," Zahid proudly states.
Zahid and the WASH Committee also recognized the importance of education in bringing about positive change. "I’m a teacher by profession, and have a school in the village as well, and I strongly believe that education is the key to any change," he says. "Our young people are talented and deeply involved in community work." he says, his voice brimming with enthusiasm.
The success of their project brought about positive changes in the lives of the villagers. "Before the Water Filtration plant, people were suffering from stomach issues. The water was smelly and yellow, and everyone could not afford to buy clean water from outside the village. But now, things are different."
Zahid's approach is grounded in his belief in the power of community. "The success of our Water Filtration plant is not just about providing clean water. It's about showing our community that we can come together and achieve great things when we work as a team.