Water for Anyama – The Source of Life
Kindo Aïssata, a literacy advisor, lives in the Belleville district in Côte d’Ivoire’s town of Anyama. Like the rest of the district’s population of 13,000, she has faced water shortages the entire 15 years she has lived there. Aïssata and her children used to walk up to 30 kilometers every other day before school to get drinking and bathing water at a fountain located outside the city and carry it home. During the post-electoral crisis of 2011, things got worse when access to the fountain was limited due to security concerns. Ultimately, the community resorted to getting water from the local marsh. The water was unclean and health problems soon appeared:
“My children and I had black spots and pimples that appeared on our bodies. We suffered from indigestion regularly. Two campaigns against bilharziasis [schistosomiasis] were organized in my neighborhood. At that time, practically every child suffered from this illness because we all supply ourselves from the same source.”
To help Ivoirians address problems in the delivery of government services, like potable water, the USAID-financed Legislative Strengthening Program (LSP) developed a pilot program in 24 constituencies to set up collaborative community platforms aimed at improving public service delivery. The platforms are made up of the MPs of the constituency, local civil society actors, local elected officials, and traditional chiefs. Under this initiative, in January 2016, LSP supported a workshop for platform members on advocacy and the role and responsibilities of locally elected officials. Aïssata, a member of the Anyama platform, took part in this workshop and decided to share what she had learned with members of her NGO, Vision Emergence, which focuses on women’s economic empowerment.
In February, Aïssata, along with members of her NGO, women of the community and with support from the Anyama platform, met the local manager of the water distribution company. Aïssata brought with her a sample of the water she had been drinking. The women testified how the water affected all members of their families. Faced with this heartfelt presentation, the local manager committed to supplying the district with potable drinking water.
Finally, LSP assured full press coverage of the hearings, ensuring that the public was well informed of the explanations provided by the executive on issues affecting their daily life.
The following week, the National Office of Drinking Water (ONEP), a government-run water distribution company, began to supply the entire Belleville district with daily water truck deliveries of clean drinking water. Since then, there have been no cases of bilharziasis in Belleville. For Aïssata, one-third of the household budget that was previously used to cope with health problems due to poor water quality is now being used for savings.
Posted January 9, 2017