Salvation lies beneath solid rock. For many people in Chad, clean water is still not accessible. They drink polluted water in order to survive – and deadly diseases are a frequent consequence. SWISSAID is laying the pipes for a better future with bores and the necessary infrastructure.
The living conditions of smallhold farmers are improved through sustainable access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitary facilities. They know and apply the hygiene and sanitation regulations in their household and in schools. The population is sensitized to a level that ensures the sustainable management of the new infrastructure. The village communities themselves set and maintain standards in accordance with national requirements.
Let’s start with something positive: where ten years ago only one in five people in Chad had access to clean drinking water, there are now three times as many. That gives hope – but it cannot hide the fact that in the south of the country half the population still obtains drinking water from unhealthy sources.
It’s often people living in rural areas who drink water from rivers, from open wells that are dug by hand, or rainwater collected from house roofs. This untreated water is dangerous – especially for children.
Dirty drinking water is the main cause of the high child mortality rate in Chad: one in ten children dies before their fifth birthday. Women and girls in particular spend a lot of time fetching water – on average six hours a day. Time that prevents mothers from earning money and putting food on plates. Time that prevents little girls from attending school.
Even today, Chad can find no escape from this vicious circle. Although oil production brought economic prosperity at the beginning of the millennium, the country slid into an economic crisis with the collapse of the oil price in 2017. An unstable security situation, which worsened with the rise of rebel groups in the region, does the rest. Chad is the third poorest country in the world. Those who are worst off lack the most basic necessities. Clean water – available as groundwater on large parts of the southern territory – remains inaccessible to them, buried under solid rock.
Drinking water for 42,000 people
SWISSAID is improving this miserable situation with bore holes and setting up manual pumps. Over a period of five years, SWISSAID will be constructing 120 wells in 120 villages in the project regions. Each well will benefit around 350 people, and by 2023 42,000 people will have more access to clean drinking water.
But the project would not be very successful if it only concerned building wells: issues such as budget management, maintenance, sanitation and hygiene standards accompany every construction. A village committee is set up for each well to ensure its sustainability. The committee collects monthly water contributions from households, manages the money and uses it for maintenance and repairing the wells. Local workshops are equipped and trained to maintain the water points.
Villagers are trained in hygiene regulations: those who know how important it is to wash their hands and scrub their hands properly can prevent diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. The “Blue Schools” are an important part of the programme: pupils learn how important hygiene is for their health and the environment. Children are more receptive to behavioural changes than adults. If they are sensitized, the whole community learns.
Together for a fairer world
However, SWISSAID cannot solve the water and hygiene problem in Chad on its own. Partnerships with other NGOs and actors present on the ground provide an important exchange of experience and synergies. SWISSAID also works closely with experts from the responsible ministry, supplies the national database on water and sanitation facilities and shares useful information on project successes.
The major goal of Agenda 2030 is a collaborative work: to make the world a fairer place. So that one day everyone in Chad will have access to clean water.