In this new series, Green Box invites young changemakers for sustainabilitea with Co-founder Mohsen Gul. Mohsen poses candid questions about their motivations, experiences and hurdles. Our first guest is Bilal Bin Saqib, an emerging thought leader who has co-founded Tayaba.org which aims to improve the lives of millions of unprivileged Pakistanis by providing effective solutions to overcome the water crisis. We talk to him about their innovation ‘H2O on wheel’ which helps reduce burden of carrying water in rural Pakistan by women and children who generally have to carry water for 3-5km and up to four hours, each day.
Mo: Why water? How did the idea of having a solution of wheels come through?
Bilal: In 2015, I was visiting Burkina Faso for one of my business projects and I saw some women there carrying water in a water wheel and upon inquiry I got to know that an NGO provides these devices to people who have to walk for hours, along long distances to fetch and collect water. I came back to Pakistan and realised that certain areas in Pakistan have a similar problem and women and children every single day go out and fetch water and spend most part of their day, carrying water in mud matkas or heavy containers on their heads. They collect water on the cost of their precious time and physical effort.
Upon research, I got to know that water-scarcity is a bigger threat to Pakistan than terrorism as IMF reports that Pakistan will run out of water by the end of 2025. Around 22 million people in Pakistan have no access to safe, clean drinking water because of poor water-infrastructure and insufficient measures of water storage. 53,000 children die of water-borne diseases every year in Pakistan reported by UNICEF.
Hence, I decided to introduce a similar initiative in Pakistan to help women and children carry water easily and save their time and efforts in doing so. Hence, with the help of some friends and connections, we developed this water wheel, named it as H2O wheel which stands for Help 2 Others and since then, doing our best to help the water-deprived population in Pakistan.
Mo: If you had to describe the journey of the wheel to date in a word/ phrase, what would it be? Why did you choose that?
Bilal: Changing lives of people one H2O wheel at a time.
I chose that because we are directly changing lives of thousands of people by not just helping them to collect water only but also helping them to save their time and effort that can be better utilised in other productive activities which can further lead to the community development as a whole.
Mo: What are some of the key challenges have you faced in rolling the wheels out?
Bilal: To name a few: unable to get donors, and geographical challenges and partnership issues. Otherwise the rolling of wheels has remained very smooth people loved it especially the target audience.
Mo: How did you leverage partnerships on grassroots level for action?
Bilal: We have some distribution partners. Organisations who are working on similar issues, taking their expertise and utilising that in our mission.
Mo: Is this a passion project for you or you wish to scale it up in Pakistan?
Bilal: This project is not just a project for me, it is an organisation of people for people. And I founded it as part of the purpose of my life, which is not happiness but to be useful. Hence, I want to scale it up in other regions of Pakistan to bring the skills of our volunteers and team members in use for those who are not as privileged as we are.
Mo: What’s next for Tayaba.org? How can young people of Pakistan help your work?
Bilal: Pakistan is not only one of the youngest countries in its region but is classified as a developing country in the exceedingly progressive world. Sixty-four per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 29, with some 30 per cent between the ages of 15 and 29. Hence, I want to make Tayaba a think-tank which calls for youngsters with diverse skills and each of the skill must be utilised in creating solutions to problems and providing assistance to the government to tackle the issues not just related to water but of hunger, poverty, development and other related fields. We have so much potential among our youth and Tayaba has always a room for people that are passionate for people, helping and uplifting each other for the development of the community.
Read about Bilal and his team’s work here: tayaba.org
And go show their initiative some support by following it on Facebook.