Before the war in 2001, Afghanistan was afflicted by severe drought for 30 years and poverty had a firm grip on its people. Since then, the situation has only worsened. Afghanistan is ranked at 172 (out of a total of 187) in the UN Human Development Index which measures life expectancy, educational attainment and income per capita.
Today, only 48% of Afghanistan’s approximately 30 million people have access to clean, safe water and just 37% have adequate sanitation facilities – the vast majority of those worst hit live in remote rural areas that are difficult to access.
Most of Afghanistan’s water resources originate in the Hindu Kush Mountains and the severe droughts experienced in the area over decades have meant that many of these major water sources have dried out altogether. This, coupled with the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan which has massively stunted infrastructure development, has led to a high rate of mortality from unsafe water. The UN estimates that 85,000 children a year are dying from water-borne illnesses.