Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out

FEATURE STORY

Roads Paved with Goodwill

February 14, 2013

Image

Young residents of Aheer in Gujar Khan district, walk on the paved streets of the village.

VNA/WB Pakistan

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Until recently, the 2,400 residents of village Aheer, near Gujar Khan, Pakistan, were often forced to wade through mud, sewage, garbage or whatever else flowed through its winding, unpaved lanes.
  • A paving project made possible with assistance from Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, supported by World Bank financing, has added a 300-meter network of bricked pathways.
  • “Every man, woman and child in this place can be proud of their village now,” says Altaf Hussain, a volunteer organizer. “We all worked to do this and it makes us proud”.

AHEER, Gujar Khan, Pakistan – The narrow brick lane outside Naeem Ahmed’s home is paved with the gold and goodwill of his community.

“Each day when I walk down this path, I feel so much pride in myself and my village,” says Ahmed, 42. “Together, we worked so hard to make this little road, this big dream of ours come true.”

For generations, Ahmed’s family has lived in Aheer village, a small farming community on the outskirts of Gujar Khan, about 60 km from Islamabad. Until recently, the 2,400 villagers there were often forced to wade through mud, sewage, garbage or whatever else flowed through its winding lanes.

Now, a 300-meter network of pathways is solidly lined with bricks arranged in an intricate herringbone pattern. A sewage drainage system runs beneath it all, and villagers feel proud, says Ahmed.

“Before the pavement, it was so bad because dirty waters brought diseases to our village,” says Ahmed. “Now everything is cleaner and my wife is so happy. Before there could even be fights between neighbors about all this filth.”

The road pavement project has been made possible by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), a local civil society partner organization of PPAF, with assistance from the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), supported by World Bank financing and small contributions from each villager in the form of cash and kind.

Road brings lasting benefits

Ahmed, a mason by trade, personally did the lane paving in September 2011. The daily wages that he earned on the job were only one benefit, he says. “I knew my neighbors paid what they could for this project and I was determined to do a good job, working twice as long and hard,” he says.

“I worked with a lot of emotion and dedication,” he adds. “It was my hope and dream that my home and village could be so clean. None of us could have done this alone, but together we managed it.”

Outside Ahmed’s home, his wife, Abida Naeem, 32, says she no longer minds sweeping the short section of lane outside her gate each morning while chatting with neighbors also determined to keep the village tidy.

“It was very smelly and bad before with so many flies and mosquitoes, and people argued about dirt coming into their houses,” recalls Naeem. “Now there is less sickness and people are content .”


" Each day when I walk down this path, I feel so much pride in myself and my village. Together, we worked so hard to make this little road, this big dream of ours come true. "

Naeem Ahmed, 42


Her son, Mohammed, 10, agrees. “Each day when I came home from school or playing outside, my mother would ask how I got my clothes dirty,” he says. “The mud was so bad sometimes that if you dropped a coin or ball, it would just vanish.”

Outside the village school, Farwa Shahzadi, 8, said her laundry and sweeping chores after classes each day have been reduced so that she has more study and play time.

“Before I was always helping my mother with clothes washing and sweeping, everything was so dirty, but now I can sit, do more schoolwork and still have time for my dolls,” she says.

Project sets example

Villagers also appreciate inspiration and guidance given by a volunteer from a nearby town. Bashir Bhatti, a retired army Major with many relatives in the area, helped villagers organize themselves for the project.

Staring down the paved lane to its abrupt end outside the village where goats graze on a garbage-strewn, dirt path, Bhatti says he is now motivating people in the nearby town to follow the example.

“People should not live in these unhygienic and inhumane conditions,” says Bhatti. “Now with this project, people can see what is possible.”

It’s a sentiment echoed in another nearby town called Kokan Jand, where lanes are now paved in a pattern of red-and-white squares. At the village entrance, a large blue sign recognizes PPAF contribution , while sewer covers over an underground drainage system are embossed with NRSP initials.

“My father, grandfather, every man, woman and child in this place can be proud of their village now,” says Altaf Hussain.  “We all worked to do this and it makes us proud.”

 


Api
Api