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Taking the Time to Listen

Source: Medair - Switzerland - Fri, 7 Mar 2014 15:48 GMT
Author: Medair
hum-wat hum-aid hum-peo
Francis Hubert André, head of Medair Madagascar’s sanitation sector, conducts a community survey about the use and quality of latrines Medair built during a previous project. copyright: Medair
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Medair completes the first phase of a long-term project in Madagascar that will bring safe drinking water to more than 125,000 people.

Make no mistake, behind the rice paddies, beaches, and luxuriant jungles lies a cruel reality. Madagascar is the fourth poorest country in the world, with 92 percent of its population living on less than 2 USD per day.

The Analanjirofo region, located in the northeast, is the rainiest area in Madagascar, filled with lush green forests bordered by the Indian Ocean. The region is famous for many different things: internationally renowned vanilla, a main road that is barely driveable, and a variety of unique fauna and flora. Less widely known is that in nine of its remote communes (population 158,322), only one in 20 people has access to safe drinking water (5.72%). That’s shockingly low.

Medair is now working alongside the population to help them build more than 700 water points over the next 42 months, which will improve the safe-water access rate enormously (from 5% up to 85%). This project—made possible through the support of the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Union (EuropeAid), Swiss Solidarity, and private funding—will improve the health of Analanjirofo’s residents by improving access to safe drinking water and ecologically appropriate sanitation. Medair will also educate people on good hygiene practices and help them understand the link between poor sanitation and sickness.

“Improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation has been Medair’s main focus since we first started working in rural areas of Madagascar more than eleven years ago,” said Anna Coffin, Interim Country Director. “We are convinced that our efforts will contribute to an improvement in the general health of families in this remote area of the country.”  

Taking the Time

In the first phase, Medair met with community members and local authorities, shared the results of baseline and feasibility surveys, listened and responded to concerns, engaged the population in the design and implementation of the project, and nurtured a strong sense of community ownership for the work ahead.

“Taking the time to go through such a process demonstrates to the communities how much Medair values their opinions and points of view,” said Marie-Claude Daoust, Medair Field Communication Officer. “With this critical foundation now in place, we are moving toward implementation.”

Improving Sanitation

As part of this project, Medair will also provide at least 12,000 people with improved and ecologically appropriate latrines. Sanitation is a real challenge in the urban centre of Maroantsetra in northeast Madagascar. In a previous project, Medair raised the level of access to sanitation in Maroantsetra up to 30 percent coverage. Our goal with this project is to bring the access rate up to 65 percent.  

“Before Medair started working here, few people were aware of the relation between diseases and hygiene,” said Mr. Ah Lone Philipe Michel, Mayor of Maroantsetra. “Flies were everywhere and the city was dirty. Water-related diseases were very common and mainly struck the children. Since Medair began installing protected water points and producing and promoting latrines, the general sanitation of Maroantsetra has clearly improved. Medair has changed the direction we were heading in Maroantsetra. Thank you!”

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Medair’s work in Madagascar is supported by the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Union (EuropeAid), Swiss Solidarity, and generous private donors. - See more at: http://relief.medair.org/en/stories/taking-the-time-to-listen/${esc.dollar}{esc.hash}sthash.Uw5rd9eO.dpuf
Medair’s work in Madagascar is supported by the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Union (EuropeAid), Swiss Solidarity, and generous private donors. - See more at: http://relief.medair.org/en/stories/taking-the-time-to-listen/${esc.dollar}{esc.hash}sthash.Uw5rd9eO.dpuf

Medair’s work in Madagascar is supported by the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Union (EuropeAid), Swiss Solidarity, and generous private donors.

Medair helps people who are suffering in remote and devastated communities around the world survive crises, recover with dignity, and develop skills to build a better future.

To learn more about Medair’s work in Madagascar, visit medair.org/madagascar

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