HUNZA, June 09: The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan’s (AKPBS,P) Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) was recently awarded the internationally renowned National Energy Globe Award in a grand ceremony organized on the UN World Environment Day in Kigali, Rwanda. Due to its sustainable initiatives to improve living conditions of more than 200 villages in Pakistan, WASEP was able to outshine more than 800 entries from 111 countries. WASEP was also short-listed as one of the top three projects in the prestigious Water Category Award.
WASEP is a rural-based initiative that integrates supply of safe water, construction of low-cost sanitation facilities and health & hygiene education in many marginalized parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The integration of these components has been able to significantly improve health indicators of the beneficiary villages. In regions where more than half of all deaths are caused by waterborne diseases, WASEP has been able to reduce by more than 60% the incidence of diarrhea, which is the number one killer of children in the developing world.
WASEP schemes, running since 1997, are all managed by the communities that benefit from them. Moreover, almost all of WASEP’s water supply facilities are gravity-fed, requiring no electrical energy. The National Energy Globe Award for Pakistan, which is reputed to be a very important environmental award in the world, was received by AKPBS,P’s Chairman, Hafiz Sherali at a ceremony held in Rwanda this week.
On receiving the award, Mr. Sherali, said “the contribution of WASEP in uplifting the living conditions of the people in Pakistan has been a source of great satisfaction for AKPBS,P but a lot more effort in this area is required. The Energy Globe Award has brought immense honour and prestige for all Pakistanis across the globe as WASEP is one of the few national Programmes that have been so well-recognised throughout the world”.
Energy Globe founder and organizer, Wolfgang Neumann stressed the outstanding achievements of the project teams that arrived in Rwanda from all around the world. “Here they are all winners, and I sincerely congratulate you for your engagement for environment properties”, Mr. Neumann said. Also present at the award ceremony was Maneka Gandhi, the Energy Globe Jury Chairwoman and Former Indian Minister of the Environment.
The World Health Organization reports that waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death in low-income countries, killing almost 3.5 million people per year, out of which more than 80% are children. WHO’s assessments have shown that WASEP’s integrated approach has had a very significant impact in reducing diarrhoeal incidence in project villages. Studies have also shown that WASEP’s focus on community and school based hygiene education has greatly improved practices of water use, sanitation and personal hygiene.
WASEP has also extended its integrated model of water supply and sanitation in rebuilding efforts in the earthquake affected regions in Kashmir. Currently, the Programme is involved in relief efforts in the Attabad landslide affected villages of Hunza, especially with regards to supply of safe water and construction of low-cost latrines in the IDP camps.
Last year, AKPBS,P received the National Energy Globe Award for its initiatives to improve housing and domestic energy issues in rural settlements of Pakistan. AKPBS,P has also received the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Global Leadership Award in 2009; the Dubai International Award for Best Practices in 2008; the Alcan Prize for Sustainability in 2005 and the World Habitat Award in 2006.
AKPBS,P, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), works with several marginalized communities of the country. From the mountain communities in the North to the coastal settlements in Sindh, AKPBS,P has implemented a number of social and infrastructural development programmes with the help of local village organisations as well as the support of leading aid agencies such as the Global Environment Facility, the Japan Social Development Fund, UNDP and others.