Now happily doing their business

On 19 November, it is World Toilet Day. What many people may smile about has a serious background: sanitation systems are in scarce supply in impoverished countries and the consequences are devastating. For that reason, donations support the construction of latrines – and drinking water supply systems. This gives women and children more time and energy to work and learn and generally improves everyone’s health.

“Every day, I am on the road from 8 am to 12 noon to fetch water,” says 36-year-old Zalia Lola from Adoua Kessa. Her situation is like that of almost every other woman in the rural community of Soucoucoutane in the southern Sahel region: only half of the population has access to clean drinking water at an acceptable distance. They must travel routes of up to one hour to reach the next well, and then they frequently wait up to five hours in a queue – the water collection points are crowded and are slow to fill up again.

The poor drinking water supply particularly adversely affects not only the women but especially the children who often support their mothers in the arduous task of fetching water – at the expense of their school education. 14-year-old Rachida Seydou, who attends the sixth grade in Doubalma explains: “Fetching water during the extreme heat is very tiring. When I arrive home, I am so exhausted that I first have to rest before I can begin my homework.”

Girl pupils skip school because there are no latrines

The lack of toilets in schools also stops boys and girls from learning. Because there are no latrines in the school grounds, they must go to the toilet in the open air. They walk far away from the school – and some pupils no longer return to class afterwards. The situation is worst for girls: they are often harassed and every month they are absent for several days when they get their periods.

It is obvious that the poor hygiene and polluted water affects health: cases of diarrhoea are widespread; in turn, this causes high medical costs for treatment and absenteeism from work. The long and challenging route to obtain clean drinking water and the lack of latrines are the start of a series of unhealthy factors that prevent any improvement in the rural community of Soucoucoutane. Alternatively, as programme manager Idrissa Moussa says, “The odds are stacked against a sick population with no hope from achieving economic and social development.”

Two water supply systems service 5,000 residents

SWISSAID’s project in the local area is therefore managed in close cooperation with the local community and pursues the following basic objectives:

  • The access to drinking water in households and schools in 12 villages with almost 5,000 residents is undergoing permanent improvement.
  • The residents are constructing latrines and using them appropriately.
  • Volunteers from the villages manage the water and sanitation infrastructure so that everyone profits from this on a permanent basis.

In practical terms, two water systems are being constructed that supply several villages near to Adoua Kessa and Aggue from one and the same source. Three schools are equipped with five latrine blocks, each of them with two cubicles. In addition, in four schools there are 15 hand washbasin facilities.

Access to drinking water as a basis for further development

Every tenth resident of Soucoucoutane benefits directly from the project. The quality of life is enhanced. The children have more time and energy to learn. The women can, for example, dedicate themselves to garden cultivation. Alternatively, they can build their own safe and secure toilet.

What your donation does

A donation of 80 Swiss francs enables you to give a school the chance for pupils to wash their hands.

  • Project number: NI 2/16/09
  • Costs: 485,106
  • Duration: Three-and-a-half years
  • Number of direct beneficiaries: 4,974 and their families