Close your eyes for a minute and picture Madagascar. What do you see? I see miles upon miles of pristine beaches, lush green tropical forests, exotic flora and fauna and brilliant blue sea. Madagascar, an island nation of 22 million people off the southeastern coast of Africa is home to several exotic species, 90% of which are unique to the country. Because of its isolation from other landmasses, most of Madagascar’s mammals, half its birds, and the majority of its plants exist nowhere else on earth.
This former French colony who gained their independence in 1960 is also home to a lesser, more ugly reality: Poverty. According to the World Bank, 69% of the population of Madagascar lives below the national poverty line threshold of one dollar per day (2011 statistic). With poverty brings hunger, malnutrition, disease, hardship and also lack of services such as access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Although running water, electricity and sanitation are provided by the government, sadly these services do not reach all the people. Based on 2010 estimates only 34% of the rural population have access to an improved water source (World Bank). Sanitation fared worse: 79% of the urban and 88% of the rural population live with unimproved sanitation services (2010 estimates from the CIA World Factbook).
Not having safe drinking water or adequate sanitation is a major hurdle in receiving an education. In a country with only 64.5% literacy rates, education is a key to lifting people out of poverty yet what child, especially a girl, would want to go to school without a toilet?
Last week WaterAid launched an exciting summer campaign to help provide proper sanitation and safe drinking water to Madagascar’s children. Over the next couple of months, WaterAid aims to reach 12,000 children in 31 schools by providing 150 taps and 100 toilets in Madagascar. What is so wonderful about this campaign is that all summer long you can follow the stories and updates of the children who will be impacted as well as the progress of the construction through the celebration on September 19th when the children return to school with taps and toilets for the very first time.
Project Sekoly: Improving School Water and Sanitation in Madagascar
Over the next few weeks you can follow the story as children in Madagascar get the water and sanitation they need to keep them healthy enough to build their dreams.
Follow their story on Twitter at the hashtag #buildfutures
WaterAid was founded in 1981 and works tirelessly to provide clean water and sanitation for Africa, Asia and Central America. Since its inception, WaterAid has dramatically changed lives and has worked closely together with local organizations, communities and individuals, to employ affordable and locally appropriate solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to people in developing countries