ANTANANARIVO –The U.S. government, through U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), inaugurated on August 12 clean water systems in two underserved communes in central and southeastern Madagascar that will improve the health and well-being of almost 8,000 people.
In the communes of Andonabe in the Vatovavy region and Andrainjato in the Haute Matsiatra region, USAID inaugurated improved water infrastructure consisting of new dams for water collection, treatment plants, reservoirs, tanks, and pipes. These systems also include public showers, latrines, hand-washing stations, water points, and piping to connect water systems to schools and health care facilities.
These communes are among 250 municipalities supported by USAID under its Rural Access to New Opportunities in Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (RANO WASH) initiative, a six-year, $30 million project to increase equitable access to safe water and improved sanitation services in rural areas of seven regions of the country. These improvements are co-funded by the French Development Agency.
In Madagascar, 83 percent of the country’s population is rural, but only 34 percent of rural residents have access to safe drinking water and only 6 percent have access to safely managed sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF. In coordination with Madagascar’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and other partner ministries and authorities, USAID implements RANO WASH through public-private partnerships, or through a coalition of NGOs lead by CARE and including Catholic Relief Services, WaterAid, BushProof, and Sandandrano.
The community of Andonabe was also commended for reaching the status of Open Defecation Free. This is the second commune in the Vatovavy region to receive this status, and other communes are expected to soon follow. They are serving as models for other villages as Madagascar strives to improve rural hygiene and decrease disease by eliminating the practice.
The U.S. government is the largest donor to Madagascar’s health sector, allocating more than $440 million since 2015 to health-related initiatives. In 2021 alone, USAID has provided $86 million to improve the health and well-being of the Malagasy people.