Madagascar Water


Madagascar Water


Despite being the world's fourth largest island, surrounded by water, many water sources are unclean in Madagascar, and few people have access to clean water at their homes. In fact, almost half of Madagascans have no clean water, and around nine in ten still have nowhere decent to go to the toilet. Clearly without water, it's difficult for people here to make hygiene a priority making deadly diarrhoeal diseases are common. The facts are startling; 13 million people don't have clean water; 24.2 million don't have a decent toilet (9 in 10 people) and most alarminly of all, more than 6,500 children under five die a year from diarrhoea. The situation is not much better in the country's schools of which only 29% have access to drinking water and only 30% have toilets with the children themselves encouraged to bring in bottled water but as youngster explains "I draw from a river close to our house. I drink it when I am thirsty, even if it is not clean." On average most households in Madagascar spend 2-3 hrs a day collecting water.




Children often collect their family's daily water supplies from wells where they are available however most are contaminated with bacteria and viruses, and those who drink from them are exposing themselves to diseases. Others collect their water from streams that run by the paddy fields near the villages; streams contaminated with animal and human urine and excrement. Even boiling water using wood fires to make it safer to drink is becoming a problem with 90% of Madagascar's natural forests now destroyed. The southern regions of Madagascar are even more vulnerable with the country's lowest water supply coverage and inreasingly prone to drought with the country currently facing its worst situation for 40 years, caused by years of failed rains and intensified by a series of sandstorms and locust attacks. The lack of water now means that one in six children under five are now suffering from acute malnutrition, with numbers rising to one in four children in the six most affected districts.


Madagascar Rivers


You may be wondering why there is a water problem in Madagascar given its an island nation with many rivers (above). There are many issues including contaminated surface water and the inefficiencies of the combined utility provider JIRAMA which as been noted to have poor financial and operational management abilities. This is coupled with a poor economy without the resources to properly fund the required infrastructure improvements set against a background of political instability and suspension of foreign aid from sources such as the EU who decided to suspend humanitarian and development aid to Madagascar in 2010 at frustration at the lack of any tangible progress towards democracy after military coup in March 1009 that saw Andry Rajoelina installed by the military as President. After that the situation stabilised however 2021 has seen the return of instability and, of course, the COVID pandemic has hit the country's finances hard making the implementation of planned safe water projects something of a pipe dream.




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