Small steps create big change for Wazir and his family in Pakistan

A disabled man in a rural village in Pakistan is sitting on his mobility device and smiling at the camera

Sometimes it is small, simple steps that can have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of a family. When Wazir met the IRC team in village Krapa in Pakistan, they supported him to join the Inclusive WASH Jirga. This connection and the steps that followed helped Wazir take control of the health and fortune of his family for the better, through simple steps to protect the water quality of his home’s dug well. (International Rescue Committee)


Sometimes it is small, simple steps that can have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of a family. This is the case in village Krapa in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It was here that our partner, International Rescue Committee (IRC) met Wazir Khan.


Krapa is situated in a remote part of the district Buner and due to its remoteness, most households depend on individual dug wells as source of their drinking water. Wazir and and his family, including his wife, two daughters and one son depended on their dug well for their daily water needs too. This is one of the villages that IRC is reaching through their Water for Women project, with support from the Australian Government.


Through their work, IRC learned that Wazir and his family were heavily burdened due to often falling ill, in fact, Wazir was spending an average of PKR 20,000 (approximately AUD$165) per month on medical expenses to treat family members for what would turn out to be water-borne diseases.


Wazir runs a small grocery shop and this expense was impacting his ability to support his household. When IRC started an Inclusive WASH Jirga (IWJ) in his village, Wazir was encouraged to join. He learned that a water quality laboratory had been established in a nearby TMA office and with encouragement from IRC staff, he decided to approach lab attendant to visit his home and collect water sample for testing.


The lab had been made possible through a joint venture between IRC and TMA Daggar. Under this joint venture, TMA provided space of two rooms and appointed a dedicated staff for running the laboratory. IRC provided necessary equipment and consumables for conducting water quality tests alongside providing extensive training to nominated staff.

Three men are standing at a table in a water testing lab, the table is covered in beakers and equipment for testing

The lab and technicians where Wazir was able to have his water tested (IRC)


After the lab attendant visited Wazir's home to collect the water sample and physically check the drinking water source, he tested the sample at this newly established lab. The results of this test confirmed the presence of E-Coli bacteria at the water source - the cause of his families illnesses.


Following this discovery, the lab attendant prepared a list of recommendations for Wazir to action at home to fix the issue. This included simple measures to improve the water quality such as:


  • relocating his milking cow which was tied close to their dug well,
  • re-locating the dumping site of the cow's dung away from the water source,
  • proper cleaning of collection bucket,
  • ensuring cleanliness of storage containers,
  • and boiling the drinking water before use at the household level.


Despite initial reluctance around making these changes, with the help of IRC staff, Wazir did re-locate his cow and associated dung disposal area to a safer distance from the water source, he put a cover on the open well, and started boiling water for drinking and food preparation purposes. And these small steps have had a big impact!


A dug out well in Pakistan with water vessels sitting nearby, a households water supply

Wazir and his family's new and improved dug out well (IRC) 


Wazir and his family are no longer getting sick, and with the three months savings from his freed up health budget, Wazir has been able to construct a modified latrine and a handwashing point at his home to ensure his family can go to the toilet safely and practice proper hygiene. The facilities are also designed to serve his special needs, due to his disability.


The positive changes for Wazir and his family's health and wellbeing has been immense. Wazir has since shifted his focus from medical expenses to business expansion. Likewise, his wife has shifted her focus to more productive work, now that she is not having to take care of sick children. Their children are now healthier, happier and more regular in their studies.


Wazir's efforts have become a great example to his neighbours and relatives too, many have started adopting similar hygienic practices with IRC's support.


Water for Women projects works at various levels to support socially inclusive and sustainable water initiatives across the Indo-Pacific. As this story illustrates, It is not only about the infrastructure, but also the systems and people that support that it - this is what creates lasting and sustainable change. Through learning, understanding and support from IRC, along with the availability of systems and processes through the TMA lab, this is a wonderful story of positive change and another example of the critical importance of WASH. 




The value of water is about much more than its price – in communities, households, schools and workplaces, water means health, hygiene, dignity, productivity and more.

Throughout March, for International Women's Day and World Water Day, we are celebrating the value of women and the value of water. Both are critical to building healthy and climate-resilient communities.


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