SEATTLE — The island of Madagascar is defined by its diverse landscape and environment. Despite this, the water quality in Madagascar has a shaky history, with over half of the country’s population lacking access to safe water, and approximately over 21 million of its inhabitants lacking a proper place to go to the bathroom.
“In the dry season, it’s very difficult to collect water and to pay for it,” said Madagascar native Marie Angele Razanadrasoa in an interview with WaterAid, one of the leading organizations that works to provide safe water worldwide. “Because I am so poor, I must use the water really slowly and carefully.” Razanadrasoa represents one of millions of people with this problem.
Accessible water tends to be a filthy yellowish color and infested with worms.
For Razanadrasoa and many other citizens of Madagascar, the dry season makes it even more difficult to locate water sources. There is no water in the well during this time, so this means that they must buy it. Buying water does not help solve the health problem, as many cannot afford to buy it consistently and use water in all household endeavors — cooking, drinking and staying clean.
Roughly 50 percent of Madagascar lives in severe poverty.
In addition, two thirds of those who live in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, live in informal housing. The city’s waste is treated improperly and only a small percentage of people have sewers in their area. Madagascar’s water quality and poor living conditions resulted in 25 percent of all deaths of children under five in urban areas.
Organizations like WaterAid and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) are actively making efforts to help those in need.
USUP has provided 724,000 people with improved water sources, 982,000 people with improved sanitation services and helped to improve the hygiene practices of 2,741,000 people. WaterAid has helped provide access to clean water for over 177,000 people and 145,000 for sanitation.
WaterAid has also worked with Madagascar’s national government to establish a way to achieve and maintain sanitation and played a major role in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for all initative, which helps organizations work together on these issues.
Currently, only 41 percent of Madagascar’s population has access to clean water and only 11 percent has access to sanitation. With organizations like WaterAid and USUP helping to gradually improve Madagascar water quality, there is hope for the island. However, it is clear that there is a long road ahead.
– Blake Chambers