- 85% of Afghanistan's population lives a minimal subsistence life in desolate rural areas.
- There is no gas, no electricity and no running water.
- Infant mortality is the second highest in the world.
- One in four children dies before their fifth birthday, primarily because of diarrhea and acute respiratory infection.
- Annually more than 85,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhea alone. The cause is almost always a lack of clean, safe drinking water.
- Afghanistan also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world; this is the number of women who die in pregnancy, labor and after childbirth.
- Fifty-four percent of girls under 18 are married. In rural areas women give birth at home 90% of the time, and only 15% of births are attended by a health worker.
JDA's WASH initiative links and supports each component of JDA's vision and incorporates the belief that women and children are key building blocks in Afghanistan's development. JDA's trainers are local Afghan female educators who themselves are from villages and understand the positions of those whom they are training and educating. Sessions are home-based and centered on pictures and skits. These experiential lessons are ideally tailored, as 93% of Afghan women are illiterate or have minimal formal schooling.
Since 2009, the WASH program has brought lasting results and positive behavior change in hygiene and sanitation practices and improvement of water quality with new wells and hand pumps and bio sand filters. Bio sand filters are easy to construct and can be made with inexpensive materials readily available in Afghanistan. These are an effective, affordable way to sustain access to sufficient quantities of safe drinking water. To date JDA has worked with 25 communities with 68,000 beneficiaries gaining access to safe water as a result of the repair of hand pumps and the drilling of fifteen new wells. One thousand women were trained in hygiene education. Ninety bio sand filters have been locally produced and are gradually being purchased and used in the ten communities. Local women have testified that since installing the bio sand filters in their homes their children have not suffered any more bouts of diarrhea.