WaterAid launches Zakat appeal to transform lives with clean water in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mali

23 March 2023
Ghulam Fareed, a community leader who raises awareness among other members about water conservation spends time with his family in Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan. March 30, 2022
WaterAid/ Saiyna Bashir

Download photos

This Ramadan, WaterAid is inviting supporters to help bring much-needed clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene to schools, communities and healthcare centres in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mali as part of its annual Zakat appeal.

Pakistan is still reeling from the impact of the worst monsoon floods in the country’s history, which affected an estimated 33 million people and threatened access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

Shockingly, one in 10 people in Pakistan are already living without clean water close to home and one in three lack decent sanitation facilities. Climate change is worsening the situation for many communities, as floods contaminate water sources, and droughts cause them to dry out.

Without access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, people’s lives are under threat: more than 19,400 children die every year in Pakistan from illnesses caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

This year, WaterAid’s Zakat appeal will bring clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene to communities vulnerable to climate change, so children can stay healthy and whole communities can stay resilient – no matter what the future holds.

WaterAid is working in the climate-vulnerable Muzaffargarh district, in the southern part of Punjab province. Community leader Ghulam Fareed, 76, lives in Nuhan Wala village, which has been without clean water for 20 years. Residents here have no choice but to walk 2-3km to a pipeline of water from a sugar mill which offers them water contaminated with sulphur which is dangerous to drink. Sadly, the 2010 floods depleted the quantity and quality of the water, leading to sickness and disease.

Ghulam explains the situation:

“I have spent 76 years of my life in this village and my family and other community members had to drink the available water which contains a high level of sulphur… Due to this contaminated water, kidney stones and stomach issues are very common in this area, especially in children.”

As part of its Zakat appeal, WaterAid is installing a new water filtration system in Ghulam’s village to provide a clean water supply. Four other water filtration plants have already been built elsewhere in the district to remove contamination from the water sources, and the charity has also trained community members to maintain the plants long term. With support from this year’s Zakat appeal, WaterAid will reach at least 15,000 more people in ten communities across the Muzaffargarh district with clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.

Ghulam added:

“I think that our hard days are over now. Now my grandchildren will witness a new beginning where they have clean drinking water available close to home.”

WaterAid is also working in five schools in the district, aiming to reach 1,000 students with new water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and providing crucial hygiene education sessions to the next generation, enabling even more people to stay healthy.

Ten-year-old role model Bushra from Hussain Jamali Wala has benefitted from these school hygiene education sessions and is sharing her learning with her family, classmates and wider community, encouraging them to follow basic hygiene practices, wash their hands and protect themselves from future infections.

Bushra (10) informs her class-fellows, family and community members about WASH techniques with the help of a training she attended by Wateraid in Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan. March 29, 2022
Bushra (10) teaches her classmates, family and community members about WASH techniques with the help of a training she attended by Wateraid in Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan. March 29, 2022
WaterAid/ Saiyna Bashir

Bushra is excited about her new knowledge and the possibility of realising her dreams:

“These sessions were so engaging, that I got more and more involved. I came to know that the usual kidney and stomach disorders which are very common in our village are due to bad hygiene practices and dirty water.

“When other villagers come to me for any guidance related to hygiene, my parents and even my grandmother take pride in it and tell others that our daughter knows it all!

“I aspire to be a medical doctor when I grow up so that I can treat people in my village who get ill due to poor hygiene practices.”

This Ramadan, donations to WaterAid will help people like Ghulam and Bushra, funding projects that meet Zakat principles.

In Bangladesh, supporters will be able to provide clean water, taps and sanitation facilities in up to 50 Madrassas in the Gaibandha, Sunmgonj and Khulna districts, which are vulnerable to climate change. In Mali donations will help bring these basics to health centres in the Kati and Bla districts, providing new water systems and hygiene training for healthcare workers.

Last year’s Zakat campaign raised more than £181,000. To build on this success, WaterAid will again be partnering with the Emerald Network, the UK’s longest running Muslim professional network, to help reach even more people with the gift of clean water.

Nadir plays with his younger brother at the water pump in Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan. March 31, 2022.
Nadir plays with his younger brother at the water pump in Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan. March 31, 2022.
WaterAid/ Saiyna Bashir

Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director, WaterAid Pakistan, said:

“We believe that access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene is a fundamental human right. However, the reality is that around the world 771 million people still lack access to clean water close to home, putting their lives at risk.

“Ramadan is a time to remember compassion and empathy. It’s an opportunity to help ensure everyone, regardless of location or background, has access to these basic human rights.

“Last year, thanks to the generous support of our Zakat donors, we provided vital relief to communities affected by the devastating Pakistan floods. This Ramadan, we invite the public to continue their support so communities can build resilience against a changing climate.

“Access to clean water changes lives and means people can stay healthy, children can go to school and women and girls can take an active role in their communities. By working together we can make lasting change to whole communities – this Ramadan and beyond.”

Find out more and donate


Download photosOur Zakat policy (PDF) has been endorsed by Imam Shaykh Abid Khan, Islamic Scholar and legal specialist. 

For more information, please contact:

Anna France-Williams, Senior Media Officer [email protected]; Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552, or email [email protected].

Notes to Editors:

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
  • 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
  • Around 290,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.

    [1] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

    [2] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

    [3] WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

    [4] World Health Organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage.