Participation of the marginalized communities in decision-making and implementation of development projects can ensure the viability and sustainability of social improvements.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breathe nor motion;
As idle painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink

The above verse is from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the longest poem written by renowned English Poet, Literary critic and philosopher, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and published in 1798. The last two lines of this verse have become immortal, and people have been widely quoting these over the centuries, to capture a situation where there is plenty of water around but none of it is potable.
And so we zoom in on Kakapir & Soomer two villages on the coastal belt along Sandspit and Hawksbay beaches. A stone throw away is the Arabian Sea, wave upon wave of frothy water crashing on the beaches frequented literally millions of holidaymakers throughout the year. Home to about 3,000 inhabitants, mainly fisher-folk, Kakapir and Sommer have no permanent supply of fresh water for their daily needs. The only water available irregularly, both for drinking and domestic usage is through tanker supply, which is both expensive and not hygienic from a consumption point of view.
Coupled with this, there is no sanitation system either in the villages, which have burgeoned over the years from sleepy hamlets into crowded communities. The villagers use pit latrines, which often overflow, causing exposed sewerage to become a serious health hazard. As a result the residents, particularly the children, are constantly suffering from a variety of bacterial infections and diseases. Even the solid waste is just dumped in open spaces, selected on basis of community members’ discretion.
This then till recently was the status of these two communities, who have been living here for generations, even as hordes of city dwellers passed them by for a day of fun and frolicking on the adjoining beaches, stocked up with their bottled water and picnic hampers. They breezed past the villages, ignorant and mindless of the poor living conditions of the people in whose locale they came for their merriment.
Fortunately, someone did perceive the plight of the marginalized Kakapir and Soomer communities and a project was initiated to change things for the better. Coca-Cola Pakistan, as part of its corporate social responsibility teamed up with UN Habitat and WWF-Pakistan to undertake a sustainable project for water and sanitation improvement in the two villages.
The project has three primary goals- establishment of a community managed sustainable water supply, environmental sanitation improvement and bringing about public awareness, capacity building and an institutional set-up. While the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board is also involved the significant actor is the local community itself.
The project is directly and solely for the benefit of the local community and their ownership is a prerequisite to make the project sustainable in the long run. The local community is a hands-on participant and a willing learner.
WWF as the implementation partner is bringing considerable expertise in these areas to the project. The work started off with in-depth social and technical surveys, followed by a comprehensive plan. A project launch workshop was held to bring all stakeholders on board and define roles and responsibilities. Next came the installation of a potable water supply, installation of household toilets, management of solid waste, physical improvement of water supply and sanitation in selected schools, training of the local people and comprehensive public awareness.  
The project focuses on full and committed participation of the communities in decision-making and in implementation which in turn ensures the viability and sustainability of the improvements being brought about. The project is a model of multi-stakeholder cooperation to achieve clearly defined objectives – a model that can now be easily replicated for other communities facing similar hardships.