By Alain Djenadoum Mbayam
YAO (Central Chad), 1st July 2015 – Fatimé Abderamane, a mother of 3 children, lives in the village Koubou Assikhel, in the district of Yao, Central Chad. This district is among the country’s districts with the lowest access to water and sanitation services. Only three in ten people have access to clean water and less than 7 per cent of people have access to adequate sanitation.
“In this village, we need to walk for three hours to get water from the pastoral well. And we had to wait for hours, the time the farmers end up watering their herd. The quality of this water is not really good. My children got frequently sick and faced frequent diarrhea,” she said.
“Girls in this village have to wake up early in the morning to fetch water. On their way back, they are tired and are no longer have the strength to go to school. But now, with those new water points which are close to our home, many of our problems were solved. Girls can go to school on time and women have more time to care for their children,” the chief of the village Abderahim Tahir stated.
At the end of 2013, the Swiss Cooperation made one of its most significant contributions to UNICEF – a grant of US$ 8 million to UNICEF Chad for a three-year WASH project in the health districts of Yao (Batha region) and Danemdaji (Moyen Chari region). The aim of the project is to reduce the prevalence of diarrheal diseases by improving access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, together with awareness raising on hygiene, for 297,000 people in the two districts. The project’s ambitious plan is to increase access to WASH services in the districts to 80 per cent by 2016.
More than 150 water points have already been constructed in the two districts and the Community-led Total sanitation (CLTS) piloted in more than 250 villages. CLTS shifts the focus from construction of toilets and trying to change the behaviour of individuals to investing in community mobilization to trigger collective action and communal commitment to becoming open defecation free. In the process, CLTS strengthens community solidarity and support systems as those unable to build latrines for themselves are helped by others.
As of May 2015, 50 per cent of project’s target in both districts had been reached. It included providing 50,000 people with access to clean drinking water, training 57,750 people to treat household water and increasing access to household latrines for 52,000 people through the launch of the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in 263 villages.
“Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens children every day in Chad, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for them,” stated Bruno Maes, UNICEF Chad Representative. “Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Women are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water. Poor farmers are less productive due to illness and health systems are overwhelmed. Without water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, sustainable development is impossible,” he continued.
Chad has one of the lowest rates of access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the world. While access to safe water and sanitation is improving in urban areas, children in rural areas are almost always at risk from these water and sanitation-related diseases. According to the latest studies, close to 16,000 children under 5 die each year of diarrhea, and these deaths are largely caused by contaminated water, lack of access to proper sanitation and poor hygiene practices.