When getting water is a challenge, everything can become harder.  

In drought-affected Tharparkar, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, the Canadian Red Cross and Pakistan Red Crescent are working together on a solution to make access to water easier. In 10 Tharparkar communities, a pilot project is establishing solar-powered water pumps to help meet the needs of the people who live there.

In rural Tharparkar, there is little over 250 mm of annual rainfall And limited irrigation. That means that people in this area are restricted to groundwater in order to meet their needs.

The task of collecting water falls mainly to women and children in these communities, and it’s not an easy job. On average, three members of a household spend three to five hours every day fetching water from wells for human and livestock needs. This is strenuous work. During the dry season, some people need to travel at least 3km or more to meet their basic water requirements, and the painstaking daily exercise of pulling out water manually from a depth of 250-300 meters takes a real toll – both physical and mental.

The pumps are submerged into existing wells and will pump into a reservoir tank which allows for continued access and storage. This means reliable access to water, without the need to pull it up by hand. 

Conditions for solar energy are good in this region, which makes solar pumps are a practical solution, especially for the remote villages and homes that are far from a power grid. Besides offering access to needed water, these pumps will save time and energy for those who are gathering the water. That means children will be able to attend school, women can use their time more productively. In some areas, the time it takes to fetch water has gone from three to five hours a day, to one hour or even 30 minutes.

Andrea Peters, Program Officer for Afghanistan and Pakistan shared a story of how these pumps are having a real impact on the lives of affected people, “a community member gestured to an older woman and explained to us that before the solar-powered pumps were established, the woman had to ask for help every time she needed water, as she wasn’t strong enough to pull the rope and bring the water up manually from the well. Now she is able to walk to the water tank, turn the tap, and collect water herself.”

The solar-powered pump installation project is currently ending, and also includes community-based health and first aid activities, and trainings for local committees on well and water pump maintenance.