Text | Anoushe Khan
Visuals | Courtesy AKPBS,P
Meet Garee Khan
The 52-year-old man from Aliabad, Hunza is the patriarch to a family of six. Along with his wife and three children, Mr. Khan lives in a semi-engineered stone laid house that has been under construction for the past seven years because of the family’s limited financial resources. For employment, he relies on farming and labour jobs that earn him a meager salary. To support the family, his teenaged daughter works as a housemaid in the neighbourhood. Combined the father-daughter duo earn just enough to cover basic household expenses such as food, school fees and medicine–that is primarily prescribed to treat waterborne diseases rooted in the consumption of contaminated water collected from open sources.
The Khan family’s dire situation is further exacerbated by the fact that their home had no sanitation infrastructure. They use a traditional pit latrine that is located adjacent to their partially fenced house. In addition to creating an unhygienic situation for the entire family, the female members of the Khan household have to wait until nightfall to relieve themselves. “A proper soakage pit costs approximately PKR 70,000 which I cannot not afford with the limited income I have,” said, Mr. Khan.
According to the United Nations Water-Glaas 2014 report, as the world turns its attention to the formulation of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) much remains to be done particularly to reduce inequalities across populations:
- 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation;
- 1 billion people practice open defecation, nine out of ten in rural areas;
- 748 million people lack access to improved drinking-water and it is estimated that 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking-water that is fecally contaminated;
- Hundreds of millions of people have no access to soap and water to wash their hands, preventing a basic act that would empower them to block the spread of disease.