Ormara – the coastal community that strives for clean water

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Ormara is like the rest of Balochistan–it has a population that yearns for basic necessities of life with water being one of them but needs considerable attention from the government to ensure it is available within the reach of a common man.

While Prime Minister Khan may have delivered many speeches to bring about development and reforms on the Western Route in Gwadar, Ormara may, well, take up a decade.

The major problem being the lack of potable water. A city where water becomes a luxury – gas or electricity is a thing of afar. A village located atop a cavern mountain at the Kund Malir beach – happens to only raise fishermen. There’s no surprise seeing children want to become fishermen. If you ask them, it’s an escape from the everyday struggle, including sanitary purpose. It’s not just an occupation for their livelihood, it’s their luxury – the only occupation that seems to console their grievances.

The struggle is evident and it’s not just one village. The folks in Ormara remember how any politician would vow of bringing reform— Aslam Bohtani being the recent after elections 2018.

This would be the summary of how they manage. The water from the village’s well is said to be unclean – which happens to be the only source of accessing potable water. Refill would take place twice in 15 days. They eat white rice and fish. They would wait until the time a couple of buses depart for the town to buy grocery. Take a bus for medical treatment as well, from either a hospital or clinics operating in the Ormara city.

For another village, with no seashore till far-off – folks tend to become mechanics or have a desire for it. Mukhtaar Ahmed, an electrician who hailed from Bhawalpur, apprised about the time when he first set foot in the chain village as how “there were no cemented huts, only shacks. There wasn’t even any non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in the district.”

There isn’t much to anticipate for the villagers – a culture day carnival in the town cannot do much for them to not worry that they will be coming back home to insufficient water for domestic use.

What do they bear with the water crisis?

“We have patients coming with Throat infection, Gastro, Abdominal cases, Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) infection due to contaminated water consumption,” Muhammad Ramzan, Naval FCPO, spoke of the diseases that are most commonly diagnosed at PNS Darman Jah hospital.

“Malnutrition-borne cases are also on the rise,” Ramzan said, at which he went on to explain one of the reasons being negligence, stating that most people do not look before they drink.

“There is a dire need of awareness in the district regarding health, for which we have initiated awareness programs in the hospital as well as house-to-house talks to acquaint them with child health awareness.”

Language is a barrier, especially for the visiting faculty that flies from Karachi every month to examine particular cases which the hospital does not have permanent faculty available. The visiting faculty has issue treating patients who only communicate in Balochi.

“We inform the concerned patients beforehand about the arrival of the visiting specialists. However, the arrangement still doesn’t solve the issue of inadequate staff as the visiting faculty is not available when a patient needs to follow up on the treatment.”

PNS Darman Jah, a hospital that has currently one running block facilitating an estimate of 700 patients a day, while a couple of other blocks remain under construction, provides free treatment. It has 10 ambulances to run across Ormara as there are no other hospitals in the vicinity, except a bunch of small clinics operating in Ormara.

There are some hospitals far-off in Gwadar and Pasni, including District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital, Gwadar.

“Many of the students are usually falling sick but the hospital is located in the town,” said Haani, a BSc. graduate who teaches at a two-room school the government built for girls in one of the villages in Ormara. “I have been teaching here for a year now after I moved here from Gwadar.

-Speaking of education-

Earlier, a bunch of girls used to go to the Boys Govt. School located at a short distance from here. Here, it’s easier for other girls in the village to come here on foot. Out of total 31 schools functional in Ormara, of which, there are 2 boys’ high schools, 2 model schools, 1 girls’ high school, 7 girls’ primary schools and 19 boys’ primary schools – one has been shut while many others summon wrath on the teachers.

Yasmeen, Vice-principal of the secondary section in Bahria College Ormara, spoke of how other schools just rely on one or two staffers to teach all the subjects to schoolchildren which is only exploitation of one’s capabilities.
“There are very few teachers in government schools that are running in Ormara and the school authorities would hand over a dozen subjects to just one or two teachers.”

Bahria College Ormara offers Quota concession on school fees to orphans and children whose parents are suffering unemployment and provides the finest schooling facilities to the students.

While it may be believed that the naval forces must be commended for introducing services in education and health facilities, these military-run facilities are launched because the army would not compromise on their children’s education or health during times of their posting at Ormara or any other underdeveloped region.

However, given the water-scarcity situation, where the ball may not be in a commoner’s court, transfer of skills is one area that needs to be communicated to arrive at a long-term solution– which flags the need for master trainers who would make doctors and teachers out of the population rather than relying on visiting faculties or wives of naval officials to assume offices in health or teaching faculty for the time being.