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The Power of the Pond

A community fishpond established on the wetlands in Chattal.
A community fishpond established on the wetlands in Chattal.
July 30, 2014

A Plan International program is helping to remedy a problem that has long plagued a Pakistani community.

“The nine-foot-deep pond has been a threat to the community for as long I can remember,” said Muhammed Khan Jafari, 68, chairman of the community board in Chattal, Pakistan. “Over the past 12 years, two women and four children have drowned.”

The pond’s dirty sewage water is also a prime breeding ground for flies, snakes, and water-borne diseases.

According to Muhammed, villagers were unable to do anything about the pond due to lack of resources and funds.

“I contacted many health and sanitation officials for help, but budget constraints and lack of political commitment remained in the way,” he said.

Now, though, the contaminated water is being used for livelihood purposes.

Two years ago, Plan visited Chattal to conduct a needs assessment of the community, and suggested recycling the sewage water and using it for livelihood use and wetland development.

“It was a new experiment for our community and I was surprised to hear that dirty water could be used for livelihood purposes,” said Muhammed.

With the support of the National Rural Support Program (NRSP), Plan constructed a 1,200-foot drain that recycled the sewage water from the pond, so it could be used in the fields and for livelihood purposes. Near the fields, Plan installed a contamination plant consisting of an Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR), six ponds, a filtration place, and a fish farm. Within the ponds, phytoremediation plants and stones were installed, which acted as natural filters for germs and pathogens.

The sewage water then flowed into the filtration ponds where the water was treated and purified, before being used in the fish farm for agricultural purposes.

The new system has been a success with many members of the community and it has even led to an increase in school attendance due to better overall health.

“The wetland project is reducing the instances of cholera, diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, and scabies within the community, while promoting the importance of good sanitation, health, and hygiene,” said 41-year-old health worker Sajida Khanum.

There’s also been a boom in the economic status of the community. Harvesting productivity has increased, with many villagers now involved in the fish farming business. Two young villagers have established a garden in the wetland, where they grow fruit and vegetables to sell at their local village market.

“This is a step forward for the community,” said Muhammed. “For that, I am thankful to Plan.”

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