Four new water distribution stations have brought relief to thousands of people, including Afghan refugees, blighted by a seven-year drought in south-western Iran.
Twenty-four thousand people - both Iranian locals and Afghan refugees - now have free 24-hour access to drinking water after the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and the International Federation built the water stations on the outskirts of Zahedan.
The project, funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, was inaugurated last month in a ceremony linked to World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
The new stations will bring relief to Afghan refugees and very poor and vulnerable Iranian people who live in unplanned refugee settlement areas located in the outskirts of Zahedan. In the past, they have had no access to drinking water or supplies to use for washing.
The IRCS and International Federation have supported these people since 2000 through water trucking services. Nevertheless, the water supply was not sufficient to satisfy needs and was unsustainable in terms of a permanent water solution.
Construction of the water stations started in February 2005 and completed by the end of April 2005.
Representatives from local authorities, international non-governmental organisations and many beneficiaries were present for the inauguration. The local population handed out sweets and cookies at the ceremony to show their delight at having access to permanent water supplies.
"Water is one of the most important needs of people for their survival," Dr. Seyed Gholamhossein Hosseini, head of the IRCS Sistan-Baluchestan Provincial Branch, said.
"By addressing this crucial need of vulnerable people, the Red Cross and Red Crescent water supply project not only saved the people in refugee settlement areas from thirst and water-borne diseases but also enhanced the Red Cross and Red Crescent image in the province."
"The Red Cross and Red Crescent has done a good job in the province," said Abdalahad Rigi, Member of the Board of Directors of the Water and Sewage Department of the Sistan-Baluchestan Province.
"Tens of thousands of lives would have been lost without the support of the Federation and IRCS. I was impressed by their efforts to provide both temporary and permanent water solutions to the vulnerable people.
"These public water distribution stations will remain for ever as a symbol of humanity, and people in Zahedan will always remember the generous humanitarian assistance offered by the Red Cross Red Crescent during a difficult period."
The public water stations will greatly improve the condition of refugees and people in need in terms of water distribution. However, all needs have not been met and there still remain those suffering from water shortage in the region.
The construction of the water distribution stations is in line with the Federation's Strategy 2010 and Global Water and Sanitation Initiative focusing on providing long-term solutions to the needs of the poorest. It also contributes to a UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce the number of people suffering from the lack of water to half by 2015.
... Payvand News - 6/8/05 ... --