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Activities related to Water Safety Plans in 3 project communities in Azerbaijan

“Community approaches to a better environment for all and poverty reduction in out of reach communities of rural Azerbaijan“

11.10.2011 |Bistra Mihaylova




Training on Water Safety Plans in Shamakha region

The project “Community approaches to a better environment for all and poverty reduction in out of reach communities of rural Azerbaijan“  funded by the EU, has been in force in 6 villages in Azerbaijan for the past 2 years. Among the various activities, several trainings and other relevant events related to Water Safety Plans took place in the target villages.

In 2010 together with TAMK university of Applied science, WECF and EKOT performed 3 days training on Water Safety Plans in the regions Shamakha, Sabirabad and Saatli. More than 50 participants took part in this - teachers, representatives from medical centres and citizens from the project communities. The trainer was Anna Samwel who is  WECF regional consultant for Caucasus and Eastern Europe. The approach of Water Safety Plans (WSP) was introduced  to the teachers of 6 villages  and how to develop WSP for their local water sources  together with the pupils.   The target villages depend for their drinking water on untreated  water of the Kura river, provided by trucks  to the villagers. For irrigation purposes water from channels fed by  the Kura river and shallow wells is used.

During the whole school year the teachers together with children performed several activities, as measuring the nitrate concentration of the  water sources in each village. Every pupil had a territory for monitoring the water quality of the irrigation channels and wells.  The children had an excursion to the boarder with Iran where a part of the water of Araz river is distributed by channels  to the irrigation channels in each community. Maps were developed by the pupils and the teachers with main water sources in each community. The children have noticed, that the level of nitrates in the irrigation channels are partly higher than the one  of the well waters.  The nitrate concentration of the irrigation channels  increased in springtime. All measured nitrates were under the norm or just reached the norm of 50 mg/l.

Despite no extremely high nitrate levels were identified, unfortunately water sources with safe drinking water in the regions in which WECF and EKOT work, are rarity. The quality of the well water is not good. The water has a high salinity and after tests done throughout the project, the results show microbiological contamination which exceeds the norms for bacteria several times. Also by the authorities provided river water intended for drinking and washing purposes, have a high turbidity and bacterial contamination.
The schools  identified the main sources of pollution of the river and channel  water: domestic waste, manure and probably the usage of fertilizer. Further the schools identified a correlation between the nitrate concentration of well water and the proximity of the pit latrine.

Within the WSP activities citizens and health authorities were interviewed about their perception of the local drinking water. According to their  responses, the citizens are dissatisfied with the quality of water, as a result many diseases (diarrhea, thyroid diseases, etc) occurred in the villages due to poor water quality.
The highest priority of the villagers is having safe centralized drinking water.
As a short term solution, WECF project team has brought some filters for removing particles and microorganism from the water and were distributed in 5 schools and 5 households.

Although, finally it should be also the task of the national and/or regional authorities to  enable access to affordable and safe drinking water to the rural villages. 
The Ministry of Environemnt of Azerbaijan is aware of the program and the activities going on in the regions and has expressed their support for implementation of the Water Safety Plans.

The findings and results of this and other  activities among the project  will be presented during the National Conference which will take place in the end of November 2011.

For more information about  the project, please visit EKOT's webpage: www.ekot.az and the project page on the WECF website



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