Mission East Manager in Tajikistan: ‘Water supply is my lifeblood’
- When I see people getting ill and children dying because they drink contaminated river water, I just have to do something, says Kamran Wadood, an engineer specializing in water resources and now Mission East's acting country director in Tajikistan.
"Earthquake forced newly trained engineer to take swift action to save lives."
This is how a headline might sound over Kamran Wadood's career. He is an engineer specializing in water supply and was almost thrown into relief work when a violent earthquake hit his home country Pakistan in 2005, killing over 70,000 people and leaving 4 million people homeless.
Today, he is acting country director for Mission East in Tajikistan. In addition to extensive work with the inclusion of children with disabilities in school and community, he is deeply committed to establishing water systems for the benefit of the poor in remote villages.
- Water supply is my heart blood! I just have to do something when I, as an engineer, see the urgent needs. I see children and women fetching water from rivers, which are both polluted and dangerous. Children are most at risk and often suffer from diarrhoea, infections and skin diseases because they drink from the river water. There are also examples of children being swept away by the current and drowning. And women have to walk 2-3 kilometers for water three times a day. They could use that time much better!
Makes sense to work for NGOs
Kamran Wadood has been working with water supply interventions for Mission East in the border area between Tajikistan and Afghanistan for three years. His wife and children still live in Pakistan but visit him during the school holidays. Kamran looks forward to seeing his family when he works from Dushanbe, where Mission East has a country office.
He thinks back to the turn his career has taken:
- When I graduated from university in 2006, I was thrown into relief work for earthquake victims even before I had received my exam papers. I had planned a career in the construction industry, but suddenly I realized that it made much more sense to work non-profit. So I got involved in a local NGO to rebuild houses, roads and water systems. The water supply had to be re-established immediately.
Kamran Wadood has worked with a Swiss aid organization and CARE. He was hired by Mission East in Afghanistan in 2015 as an advisor in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Later he was given more and more management responsibilities and became in charge of water supply in the border area between Tajikistan and Afghanistan for three years before now becoming acting country director for Mission East in Tajikistan.
Collaboration creates stability
Which project are you most proud of today?
- I am really happy with what we have achieved in the border area. The border has been closed since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, but I hope it opens up so that we can continue the good cooperation there. Water flows where it wants to, and this is how I experience the cooperation with the population on both sides of the border. We have had many good meetings and fine collaborations which have also meant more stability in the area.
What do you hope for the future?
- I hope we can build on our experience from the border area and reach out to more vulnerable communities with our expertise. The needs are enormous. People get sick and many die because of the polluted and dangerous rivers. The population deserves clean drinking water so that they can have health and energy to engage in education and development of their communities.