The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat operates a number of measures designed to improve water and sanitation. Its flagship programme, the Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP), was initiated in 1997 with the aims of providing integrated water supply infrastructure services to local communities and helping prevent water-related diseases though improved hygiene and sanitation practices. The development of community capacity in the design and maintenance of these services is a key element of WASEP’s integrated approach. Communities also take the responsibility of the operation and maintenance of the scheme, as well as contribute to a fund for salaries of community scheme based operators, health monitors, and spare parts.
WASEP provides engineering and construction services, non-local materials, skilled labour, training, and health and hygiene education during the scheme implementation. WASEP’s integrated intervention package includes:
- Community mobilisation and participation;
- Potable water supply infrastructure;
- Water quality management;
- Grey water drainage infrastructure;
- Household sanitation infrastructure and
- Health and hygiene education, including Community Health Intervention Programme and School Health Intervention Programme
WASEP has successfully partnered with over 400 rural communities in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral in developing water supply and sanitation infrastructure services. WASEP has supplied potable water to hundreds of thousands of people, installed nearly 20,000 latrines, and conducted over 10,000 hygiene education sessions, generally with women and children in rural communities. It has trained hundreds of public sector and other NGO staff in the design and operation of integrated water and sanitation services. Some of the key achievements of the programme include:
- According to an internal study, a 60% reduction in the level of water borne diseases has been found in WASEP programme villages;
- WASEP's integrated intervention package has reduced the incidence of diarrhea in partner villages by at least 25 percent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO);
- Water provided through the schemes is as per WHO standard; and
- All of the hundreds of water supply schemes developed by WASEP are currently operational and being run and operated by communities who also have contributed in kind and in cash towards its construction and the operation and maintenance fund.
Similar water and sanitation programmes have operated in the Sindh province of Pakistan (since 1997). The progamme includes provision of hand pumps and hygienic sanitation facilities to the rural settlements. Other programmes have also operated in India and Afghanistan.