AFGHANISTAN: Sanitation woes in
makeshift IDP camps
KABUL, 23 April 2009 (IRIN) - Open defecation, lack
of toilets and poor sanitation in makeshift internally
displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout Afghanistan
are a health threat, particularly to children, health
workers and aid agencies say.
According to the Afghan government, at least
230,000 people are living in formal IDP camps and
informal settlements where few sanitary, water and
toilet facilities are available.
About 500 families (2,500 individuals) displaced
from southern regions have set up shacks, tents and
mud huts in Qambar on the western outskirts of Kabul.
Most residents there are forced to defecate in the
open. Some also use insecure pit latrines or dry vault
toilets near their shacks.
“In summer we suffer a lot from the stink, and the
flies and mosquitoes which are attracted to the
scattered faeces and dirt,” Akhtar Gul, an IDP at
Qambar camp, told IRIN.
Similar concerns were raised by several residents
of the Wechtangay IDP settlement in the eastern
province of Nangarhar.
IDPs in the makeshift camps are prone to diseases
like dysentery and diarrhoea because they lack access
to proper sanitation, adequate safe drinking water and
healthcare, health workers say.
The problem with building toilets…
Backed by UN agencies, the Ministry of Refugees and
Returnees (MoRR) has been trying to discourage
internal displacement and prevent the establishment of
new IDP camps.
“Our policy is to encourage people to return to
their original areas,” said Hafiz Nadeem, a MoRR
official, adding that building latrines and wells in
informal camps would attract more IDPs.
Anne Garella, head of the Action contre la Faim (ACF)
country mission, told IRIN they had applied to build
toilets and water points for the Qambar IDPs but had
failed to get permission from the government.
In January the government permitted ACF to provide
drinking water to the Qambar IDPs for six months; ACF
has been delivering two tankers of water a day.
“The number of IDPs in the camp is increasing every
day and we are very concerned about their access to
drinking water after June,” said Garella, adding: “A
longer-term solution would be for the government to
allow us to dig wells and build toilets there.”
The need for safe drinking water will increase in
the coming months and the government is expected to
extend Qambar’s water delivery deadline to beyond
June, according to aid workers.
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