Although Chad has groundwater and several larger lakes and rivers, only half of the population has clean drinking water. In Chad water is precious – and conflict emerges over precious commodities. The village residents, who collect water for their daily use, are at loggerheads with cattle farmers who bring their animals to the same well to drink. If the well has any water, that is.
Every day the women and girls walk for six hours with buckets and jerrycans to the nearest well – often to no avail. Farming is also suffering from the chronic water shortage that leads to continued hunger. One third of the population is undernourished.
Bush toilets pollute the drinking water
The sanitary facilities are also in a bad state. In the countryside only six per cent of the people have a toilet; almost everyone does their business outdoors. Washing hands afterwards is impossible. The people have to go back to the fields, into the kitchen or to school with dirty hands. Human and cattle faeces pollute the drinking water as well as the soil, and farmers suffer the most because of this.
Cases of diarrhoea due to contaminated drinking water and a lack of personal hygiene account for twelve per cent of fatalities among children under five. There is a 41 per cent risk that a newborn baby will not live to reach its 14th birthday.
16 new wells, five school latrines
To ensure that people have access to clean water all year round, SWISSAID is building a well in 13 villages in southern Chad; two more wells are being constructed in schools and in a healthcare centre. The wells are operated with hand pumps and, depending on the water source and soil conditions, they are constructed at a depth of up to 90 metres.
The five new school latrines are another important step to improved health. Finally, the pupils no longer need to go into the bushes. The girls are even more delighted – they repeatedly suffered as victims of sexual violence because they had to relieve themselves in the open air without any protection. No wonder that the construction of five toilet huts is this year’s big highlight in the schoolyard.
More hygiene, fewer illnesses
But even with the last load of concrete for the well shaft, and the last nail securing the planks for the toilet huts, the work is not over.
The school pupils are shown how to wash their hands properly every time after going to the toilet and before eating – using soap, obviously. The children are meant to convey to their families the information about preventing illnesses. At the same time the parents are shown how they can build a simple latrine themselves: less excrement in public spaces means a more successful fight against bacteria.
Whoops of joy in the tranquil village
The local community is also assuming responsibility following the construction of the wells and toilet huts. At the village meeting, a well and latrine committee is elected to supervise every new well and every toilet. About ten people attend a training course and then look after the maintenance and cleaning of the sanitary facilities. To enable the committee to carry out the work, every household regularly pays a financial contribution which is administered openly. Over the next few years SWISSAID intends to build wells and school latrines in other villages. This has caused whoops of joy in the tranquil village.
- Project code: TS 02/15/08
- Project costs: 219,727 Swiss francs
- Project duration: 12 months
- Beneficiaries: 3,763 people in 10 villages and 937 school pupils