A few months ago, Spirit of America committed to a proof-of-concept project to deliver clean water to families through Lifestraw Family. The infrastructure for large-scale clean water delivery system is still years away in rural areas of Kandahar. With this in mind, the Civil Military Operations Center and local Army training teams approached me to support a project that helps families obtain clean drinking water.
The Lifestraw Family is a water purification unit that produces more than 3-years of clean water. The process is simple. Families collect water and pour the water into the top of the device. Pure water, then, trickles out from a tube at the bottom of the Lifestraw.
In a region where traditional authority still exists, this project helps to reinforce traditional authority at district levels and more importantly provides villagers clean drinking water. Local leaders identify the informal water authorities, or Mirabs, responsible for the training and distribution of the units.
Once the Lifestraws arrived at Kandahar Airfield, I traveled to Ghorak District to train the leadership including the District Governor and his brother on use of the device. Those in attendance, including US Army soldiers, were rather impressed when I poured dirt-filled brown water into the device and pure, clean drinking water came out of the other end. I then asked the governor's brother to demonstrate the use of the device and then sample the water. With good nature, he delivered a good demonstration of the water purification process.
At the next district shura, the Ghorak District Governor demonstrated the water purification process with the Lifestraw system to groups of local Mirabs. The villagers in attendance became excited by the device's ability to turn dirty water into clean drinking water. The Lifestraws were then distributed to the Mirabs for use in the villages. Furthermore, the project's success attracted the attention of other governmental entities at Kandahar Airfield, including USAID. Currently, there is ongoing discussion as to how this project might be scaled up and put to use in other areas of Afghanistan.
Spirit of America donors deserve a great deal of thanks for their strong support for this pilot project. Their efforts helped jumpstart the delivery clean water to Ghorak villagers paving the way for more stable communities in southern Afghanistan and improve the development and governance of Afghan districts.
Afghanistan Field Rep