A little girl grins and lets clean water from a new standpipe fall onto her hand
20 April 2021

Earth Day: When the sun brings clean water

This Earth Day, communities in Afghanistan harness the sun to get clean water

It’s easy to take clean drinking water for granted.

Turn the tap and there it is. But for 785 million people across the globe, water scarcity is literally a daily matter of life and death.

As the impacts of climate change build, urgent solutions are being sought to avoid a growing humanitarian and ecological crisis. This is a global issue, and we all have our part to play whether we’re cutting down our landfill waste, conserving water or looking after our natural spaces.

This Earth Day, you can claim a packet of FREE Wildflower seeds – make your outdoor space beautiful and support bees and butterflies. It’s a simple way to help your local environment, support the global fight against climate change and help protect vulnerable children from the effects of future climate change.

Father Qudrat stands in front of the solar panels which now provide clean water for his children
Qudrat spent whole days collecting water in the hot sun, when he was a boy. Now his children can drink clean water, thanks to solar power.

Climate change in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is in a particularly vulnerable position with a heavy reliance on natural resources and agriculture on top of existing, ongoing crises. Across the world we’re seeing the effects of climate change on farmers’ harvests and growing lands, with reduced water sources impacting crops, animals and people’s health. Together, these issues could be catastrophic for communities.

In the hilly, windswept Badghis province, World Vision is working with local communities to secure reliable, safe and secure access to water — no matter what the future holds.

Since he was a child, when the local river stopped running in dry seasons Qudrat would spend hours walking to and from surrounding villages to source drinkable water for his family.

He would then be forced to wait in long lines in the hot sun with scores of other children – many suffering from headaches and fatigue. The simple act of fetching water often became an all-day expedition.

Village leader, Bahawodin, explains, “children used to fetch water during their classes and [missed] their lessons to this responsibility.”

Qudrat remembers “… when I was 12 years old; I waited the whole day to fetch water, but then the sky became dark and it was late, so I [was forced to turn back] home.”

A whole day of school and playing missed – and not even the sweet relief of a cool drink at the end.

A little girl, turns on a new tap for clean drinking water in her village
Arezu, 6, can drink clean, fresh water now

Dehydration from dirty water

As in many other countries around the world, those collecting water every day are usually mothers and children. And, commonly, the water they find is dirty. As a consequence, contaminated water has had a far-reaching negative impact on the health of the country’s youngest.

“My brother always felt weak,” Qudrat remembers. “When we went to the doctor [we were told] that it was the effect of using unclean water resulting in diarrhoea and dehydration.”

A little boy smiles, as his father hands him a cup of fresh, clean water. Solar panels in the background
Mohiuddin and his father enjoy clean drinking water by the solar panels

Solar-powered water

It’s no secret that resilience is hardwired into Afghan people after decades of war and natural disasters, but with the added complications of climate change, they’re entering into uncharted waters.

Here’s the good news: rather than drying up the riverbed and tiring out children, Badghis’ hot sun is now being harnessed to provide cool, clean water. As part of a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project partnering with UNICEF, World Vision Afghanistan managed the installation of a solar-powered water supply network in Qudrat’s village.

Now 23, Qudrat is a farmer with a family of his own. And his children will never have to choose between going to school or drinking water. The reliable borehole supplies 12 taps and 178 families with a year-round source of water, no matter the conditions.

Little David enjoys watching the water, from a new tap, splashing on his hands

World Vision is reaching one new person with clean water every 10 seconds and reaches three more schools every day with clean water.

#SeeChangeBeChange

We may not yet know the full scale and impact of a changing climate in Afghanistan.

But it’s the community-led and World Vision-supported projects like this solar-powered water system which will help people survive, recover, and build a shared future together as climate change encroaches on their lives.

For Qudrat and his community, their resilience and experience has them well-placed to keep finding innovative solutions for decades to come – and we’ll be them every step of the way.

But there are still many other communities, across the world, facing worsening and new crises caused by climate change. We believe every child, wherever they are, should have the opportunity of a full life – a childhood with the chance to learn and play and a future of choices and chances.

Overhead shot of a metal tub filled with seeds


Seeds of change

We can all play our part in fighting climate change – and protecting children like Qudrat’s.
So to celebrate Earth Day we’re offering World Vision supporters a free packet of wildflower seeds. Native wildflowers attract bees and butterflies – helping to bring colour to your garden and sustain vital species.

Simply click here to claim your free wildflower seeds. But be quick – once they’re gone, they’re gone.

This Earth Day, 22nd April 2021, let’s #SeeChangeBeChange to help protect the most vulnerable people against the impacts of the climate crisis.

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