Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Southern Town Loses Water Supply

The town of Batken in the south of Kyrgyzstan found itself without fresh drinking water when the mains supply burst.
As reporter Ulukbu Amirova found out, the burst happened after water froze in the pipe when the pumping system stopped – another result of the chronic electricity outages that affect Kyrgyzstan.

Residents were forced to drink water taken from a local stream.

“The water’s clean because there’s a current,” said one man, adding somewhat alarmingly, “Of course there’s trash floating in it and rats and mice too. But what can you do? You have to boil it to get rid of the microbes.”

Officials say they will keep water moving in the mains to prevent a repeat of the burst.

However, even at the best of times the town’s residents find it hard to access potable water. Our reporter visited one woman who thaws out the tap in her yard each morning, but then has a deluge of visitors through the day as her home is the only one in the neighbourhood where the water is not frozen.

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