Over 65% of Madagascar’s rural population lacks access to safe drinking water, which greatly impacts the health and wellbeing of small communities. Children suffer needlessly; each year 6,900 die due to contaminated water and their families are trapped in a continual cycle of poverty and preventable disease. However, thanks to the kind donations of GlobalGiving supporters and the completion of Project Fatsaka, things are starting to change.
SEED Madagascar has completed two phases of Project Fatsaka, enabling communities to regain and continue to access safe drinking water by successfully encouraging the use of wells, building local capacity to manage and repair these wells, and engaging local authorities to improve governance in resource management. This has seen a staggering increase in well use from 41% to 95% in the communities involved.
Felana, a 25 year old mother of three has told us how important the project has been to her family: “I am so happy that SEED have [sic] helped us to restore our well, clean water is sacred … It tastes good and now I give my children clean water all the time and that makes me happy.”
Project Fatsaka has successfully improved the water quality and functionality of wells, leading to improved access to safe water for the communities. The futures of these vulnerable children have been further improved due to a reported decrease in diarrhoeal disease. Families can now spend less on costly medical treatment and disrupt the health-related poverty trap.
Successful water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education and practices have been implemented. Providing WASH lessons in schools has enabled children to act as agents of change, developing their own good WASH practices and incorporating these into family life.
Sustainability has been encouraged through community engagement and ownership. The formation of Well Committees and Community Action Plans have enabled active and responsible management of water resources. The benefits that have been achieved in a short period of time have increased community determination to ensure the project’s longevity: “I want to motivate the rest of the community to use the well. The well water is clean, and I want to keep it that way.” says Pela, a Well Committee member.
Technical training has built capacity to repair and maintain the wells, thus reducing reliance on external support whilst increasing local ownership and engagement.
Thanks to the kind support of donors, Project Fatsaka has provided over 10,000 people with the tools to improve their health and wellbeing. Families now have sustainable access to clean water, giving them a chance to break out of the health-related poverty trap associated with unsafe drinking water.
18 months ago, 15 communities of the Rural Mahatalaky Commune did not have access to safe drinking water. The community wells had long fallen into disrepair, forcing families to drink water from pools, puddles and rivers nearby.
The general lack of infrastructure and widespread practices of open defecation in the area mean surface waters and rivers are highly contaminated, causing high levels of water borne illnesses amongst the communities. With diarrheal disease one of the most common causes for child deaths under five, the lack of access to safe water remains a major public health challenge in southeast Madagascar.
Over the past 18 months, Project Fatsaka has successfully addressed this challenge, supporting 15 isolated communities to regain access to safe water in their community wells. Today, over 10,000 people living across these 15 communities have access to safe drinking water again and mothers no longer have to worry about losing their children to dirty water!
Improving drinking water practices & hygiene education
Low levels of education, the lack of access to good water and sanitation infrastructure and low attitudes and motivation all contribute to generally poor hygiene practices amongst the communities.
As women are expected to collect a lot of water to meet the cooking and drinking needs of their families, they often lack the motivation, or do not have the time, to make enough trips to collect sufficient water for their whole family to practice good hygiene. Consequently, good hygiene practices aren’t engrained amongst the wider community.
To ensure communities not only have access to clean water, but also understand and practice good drinking water and hygiene practices, Project Fatsaka organised regular community meetings to educate members on the health benefits of drinking water from safe sources, like wells.
During school, water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) sessions SEED taught school children of all age groups how germs travel into open water sources through open defecation and can cause illness and disease. Practical demonstrations garnered laughter and enthusiasm as kids learnt about health and hygiene in a fun and engaging way.
In a country where easily preventable diseases, such as the plague, are reoccurring, it is crucial that rural communities are educated on the importance of basic hygiene and safe water sources, to prevent the spread of epidemics. This education has to include the youngest members of society.
Well management and maintenance
Although the 15 communities were provided with wells by other organisations in the past, no one in the communities knew how to operate and maintain the wells properly.
Water infrastructure provision does not equate to access to a functional and reliable water source. For wells to work and provide clean and safe drinking water, they have to be managed and maintained. This is especially true for the isolated communities Fatsaka works in, which are located in mountainous regions, where heavy rains and environmental stressors impact the durability of wells.
Lacking the skills and knowledge to repair and maintain their community wells effectively, all 15 rural community wells fell into a state of disrepair in the last few years. As a result 10,000 people did not have access to safe drinking water.
To address this problem, Fatsaka trained members in each community on the skills and knowledge to repair and maintain their wells properly. SEED supported communities in establishing well committees that will be in charge of managing the wells independently. With SEED’s support and training these committees can now autonomously ensure that the communities can finance, repair and maintain their wells without needing external support or funding. Today, communities have the skills and capacity to help themselves the next time the wells break or have problems. Ultimately, this will allow rural families to sustain access to a functional and safe water source long after Project Fatsaka’s end.
Throughout the past 18 months of the project, the 15 well committees proved to take their responsibility very seriously and successfully learnt how to manage and repair their community wells. To increase the likelihood that well committees continue to do their work effectively and take their responsibility seriously after Fatsaka’s project close, SEED included the local Commune in the project.
Fatsaka closely collaborated with the local mayor, convincing him to increase his support to the communities and take responsibility for providing safe water to the 10,000 people living across the 15 communities. SEED’s effort proved successful, with a very engaged mayor who decided to employ two additional agents.
Since last April these agents have been in charge of supporting and monitoring the work of the well committees on a regular basis. SEED trained these two agents on how to effective support the committees and supervised their work for several months.
By including and strengthening local political institutions, Project Fatsaka has achieved greater sustainability and accountability. With the support of the Mayor and his Commune agents, the people of the Rural Mahatalaky Commune will have someone to turn to if there happen to be any issues with their well committees or wells in the future.
After 18 months of extensive community outreach and mobilization, technical training sessions and institutional engagement, Project Fatsaka will come to a close in September 2018. Throughout the project, SEED has invested in the potential of local communities and institutions, recognizing that local, community-led solutions are key to long-term sustainability. By training local actors to play an active role in the management and maintenance of rural well infrastructure, Project Fatsaka has empowered 15 communities to find their own solutions to water resource management.
Today over 10,000 people in rural communities have regained long-term access to safe drinking water and have a healthy alternative to water from dirty puddles, rivers, or pools. Mothers no longer have to worry about child death due to waterborne disease and village elders can refer to the well committees when the wells require repairs. With the help of Project Fatsaka, 15 rural communities now have the necessary skills, knowledge, and motivation to continue to have access to safe drinking water indefinitely!
Did you know that worldwide over 844,000,000 people are without access to even just a basic source of drinking water?
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right, which is why we’ve been celebrating Water Action Month.Recently becoming a member of End Water Poverty, Project Fatsaka took the lead in supporting Water Aid’s campaign on safe water for all in the Mahatalaky Rural Commune, southeastern Madagascar.
Since May last year, the project has been helping 15 rural villages regain access to safe drinking water in their community wells. SEED has been training well committees in each community to repair their local wells, some of which have been broken for years.
Educations sessions are designed to help community members to recognize the health implications of poor drinking water practices. On-going community meetings and training sessions are tailored for individual community needs. Equipped with the necessary technical and financial management trainings, communities are gradually empowered to manage and maintain their wells independently. Without requiring external support or funding in the future, communities themselves can ensure supply to safe drinking water.
Since January 2018 Project Fatsaka has trained and assisted 11 communities in repairing their well and regaining access to safe drinking water!
Building on the momentum of Water Action Month, Fatsaka’s activities in March focused on promoting good hygiene habits in schools. Following teacher training, in February - four schools have received lessons focusing on hand-washing. Armed with scientific knowledge on how hand-washing can prevent the spread of disease - it is hoped that these children will become advocates for WASH. Research shows that by querying and questioning deeply entrenched attitudes and traditions practiced by their family and friends - it is often children that catalyse change within their communities.
On the 24th of March Project Fatsaka celebrated World Water Day with a large public event to promote safe drinking water practices. The turnout was immense, with hundreds of people, traveling from 15 communities to join the festivities! The crowd cheered with excitement as school teams and water committees competed in handwashing relay races and competitions. Water quizzes allowed the team to reinforce key hygiene messages and highlight the health benefits of safe water. The presence of local politicians at the event helped raised awareness on the importance of having access to safe drinking water.
The events ended with the remarks of the Mayor: “Project Fatsaka has helped our children and families have access to safe water once more. We need to recognize that value to our well-being and ensure that our well committees have the support of the community to maintain the wells independently in the future!”
Project Fatsaka’s community-led approach is helping communities of the Mahatalaky Rural Commune achieve their human right to safe water. Find out more about what we're doing at SEED to @EndWaterPoverty and think about making a donation through this page to continue SEED's work in making access to safe water a reality in southeast Madagascar!
It’s 8am on Wednesday morning in the Mahatalaky Rural Commune in the southeast of Madagascar, it’s uncomfortably hot, and it’s the School Holidays… But, not for everyone. 26 highly motivated rural teachers have travelled from all over the Commune by foot to attend a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training session. Project Manager, Nary Charlier, stands at the front of the classroom and gives a big Tonga soa (welcome) to everyone there. He is delighted that there has been such a turn out and is keen to get started.
“What does safe sanitation and clean water mean to you?” He asks the class full of passionate teachers. A silence falls amongst the room while they contemplate the answer, until one individual shouts: FAHASALAMANA (health). There’s a wave of murmuring that flows through the room and the energy begins to rise and other suggestions come rolling in; handwashing, having a latrine available. The energy begins to spike until Nary claps, everyone joins in with unison and a chant begins: RANO MADIO DIA… FAHASALAMANA (Malagasy for Clean Water is… Health)echoes the school grounds as 26 rural teachers begin their training on WASH.
With more than 40% of the area’s households using an unimproved water source, diarrhoeal disease amongst children is rife.
To combat this, the Fatsaka team has trained teachers who live and work all over the Commune on how to deliver WASH classes to primary school children in their villages. Through undergoing an intensive 2-day course, teachers were trained on how to deliver dynamic and engaging classes on six important WASH topics; these were: handwashing, latrine use, latrine maintenance, identifying safe water sources, water treatment and safe water storage. Over the next 6-months Project Fatsaka’s skilled community liaison officers (CLOs) will support the teachers to deliver the WASH classes to over 100 impoverished children.
By giving teachers adequate training and educational resources, the project aims to equip them with the knowledge, skillset and confidence to deliver the classes themselves. As such, continuing to train young people long into the future to be WASH agents of change.
The Headmaster of Andramanaka Primary School (pictured below holding the poster, on the left), walked over 30km both days to get to and from the training session.
“Treating water, washing our hands and having a latrine available is so important and it’s my duty to make sure the children of Andramanaka Village know this. That is why I have made sure I could come to this training, I want them to know how to protect themselves from deadly diseases.”
Over the past 10-months the project has seen a 17-percentage point increase in household use of an improved water source. In addition; 13 local water committees have been formed and trained in well management and maintenance. Alongside the support of the Fatsaka outreach team, four broken wells have been repaired by the communities and the local government has assumed their responsibility in rural water management.
In the next 8-months, the project seeks to train water committees further in well reparation, deliver six WASH classes alongside teachers in four rural schools and strengthen local government capacity in rural water management. In achieving this, Fatsaka strives to ensure long-term and sustainable access to safe water across the Mahatalaky Rural Commune.
Pela speaks of the cholera outbreak that devastated her village almost 20 years ago. After seeing so much despair in her community due to dirty water, she decided to make safe water consumption her priority. For so many years her village used the local river as their primary water source, and for so many years diarrhoea was rife. After the well was built diarrhoeal rates declined, but it wasn’t enough. People in the community still didn’t use it all the time and still people would get sick.
Over the past six months, we’ve been working with Pela’s community to motivate them to use their well over contaminated water sources such as rivers, lakes and rice paddies that are a breeding ground for potentially deadly waterborne diseases.
Almost 4,000 children die each year in Madagascar of diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation – WaterAid, 2017
By supporting and empowering communities, 14 of the 15 villages under Project Fatsaka have created community action plans and taken the necessary first steps to achieve them. In Pela’s village, initial research found that almost nobody used the well. Since working with Project Fatsaka, use by the community has risen to almost 100%! Over the coming months, we’ll continue to work alongside Pela and the committee so that they may gain the skills needed to manage and maintain their well for years to come.
“I am happy to be working with SEED on Project Fatsaka, I want to motivate the rest of the community to use the well. The well water is clean, and I want to keep it that way.”
Water testing results found that surface water in the area was extremely dangerous to human health, with high rates of bacterial contamination. Yet, still so many people are forced to use them as the wells in their communities have fallen into disrepair.
In one village, a crucial part of the well was stolen by thieves, leaving the community no other choice than to use dangerous and unclean water sources like their rice paddies. To buy a new well head is very expensive for these isolated and impoverished communities, but donating just $100 could supply the village with clean, safe drinking water to help in the fight against diarrhoea and child mortality.
As Project Fatsaka begins training communities to self-manage their own wells, your support is needed more than ever. With your help, we’ll ensure that 10,000 people living in southeast Madagascar have access to clean, safe drinking water.
“It only takes 5 minutes to boil water, but it takes days to go to the local hospital. I know what I will do from now on. Thank you SEED!” – Blandine, age 54
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