ANTANANARIVO – This week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) inaugurated a package of drinking water supply systems to improve the health and well-being of 10,600 people in four underserved communes in central Madagascar.
These municipalities are among 250 supported by USAID through its Rural Access to New Opportunities in Water and Sanitation (RANO WASH), a six-year, $30 million project to strengthen equitable access to safe water and improved hygiene services in seven regions of the country.
“Alongside the Malagasy government, the U.S. Government through USAID, is committed to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, and the promotion of hygiene as a social norm,” said USAID WASH specialist Nary Ramanarivo. “Access to drinking water in sufficient quantity and quality at an affordable cost is a fundamental right. Proper hygiene practices, likewise, are essential for good health and nutrition.”
The communes of Ivato Centre and Ambatomarina in the Amoron’i Mania region, and Androy and Andrainjato in the Haute Matsiatra region, have all benefited from improved infrastructure consisting of new and rehabilitated dams for water catchment, water treatment plants, water tanks, pipes, as well as showers, public latrines, hand washing stations, and water points. Some infrastructure also connects local water networks to schools and health care facilities.
Access to clean drinking water, basic sanitation, and good hygiene save lives and are essential to good health, especially for children. In Madagascar, however, only 34 percent of rural residents have access to clean water, and among them – 83 percent of the country’s population – only 6 percent have access to safely managed sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF.
USAID implements RANO WASH through a series of public-private partnerships, including the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, other partner ministries, regional and municipal authorities, as well as local and international NGO’s including CARE who leads the implementation, Catholic Relief Services, and WaterAid.
The celebration in the four communes also included the communities reaching the status of ‘End of Open Defecation.’ Other communes are expected to soon follow, becoming models for other villages as Madagascar endeavors to eliminate the practice nationally.
“This new infrastructure sets a whole system in motion where everyone must take their responsibilities and help each other like the ‘Mpirahalahy Mianala,’ including management companies, regional and municipal authorities, civil society organizations, and above all the people, who have the most important role,” Ramanarivo said. “Through our mutual commitment, we can guarantee quality and affordable services for all and ensure the new infrastructure is maintained.”