A Village on a Mission
The villagers of Ambodifanovo have made it their mission to protect their water point, so that it can continue to protect them
Ambodifanovo in Ivoamba Commune is a community of 55 households and 356 members. There is one main water point in the center of the village, and it is there that all community members go for water.
Before ASOTRY, a USAID-funded project, that solitary waterpoint was almost more trouble than it was worth. The open well dried often, and even when there was water, it was often contaminated by fecal waste.
“Before, feces were scattered everywhere, and sometimes we couldn’t even find where to step when we walked outside,” said Rajean, president of the Water Committee in Ambodifanovo. “When kids had diarrhea, we sent them anywhere to relieve themselves, and the disease spread as a result.”
With an open, shallow well, it was impossible to regulate cleanliness and monitor usage, and the community members suffered. “The water from this well was really insufficient for us,” Rajean added.
“Sometimes, we had to go to another village to fetch water, and we felt we were really struggling. The issues with diarrhea were indescribable. The water we drank was not safe at all, so diarrhea really prevailed here.”
When ASOTRY Field Agents came to Ambodifanovo, they discovered an old, unreliable well, and a dangerous lack of hygiene and sanitation. They partnered with a well company to rehabilitate the waterpoint, and they formed and trained a community-based Water Committee to educate the community to WASH standards and practices, and to protect the rehabilitated waterpoint.
After the well company cleared the well, repaired it, and installed a pump to cover and regulate the water source, Rajean knew he and the 11 members of his Water Committee needed to do more to ensure the longevity of the lifesaving water source. While most communities only build a small wooden fence around their well, and sometimes nothing at all, the Water Committee knew the protection of their water point was paramount.
“When the final reception of the pump was done, we discussed between us and decided to build a house to protect it, that we can lock, because it was essential that we stopped drinking unsafe water,” he said. “If we didn’t build a protection for it, it would be destroyed.”
Together with the whole community, Rajean and his team spent a month constructing a shelter to protect the well. Everyone contributed money for bricks and wood, and gathered grasses for the roof, and by early December of 2018, the shelter was complete. In a region where wells are often marginally protected or completely neglected, this construction was a feat of exceptional devotion.
In addition to providing a secure shelter for the well, the committee also built one toilet and two washing rooms away from the water point to prevent contaminated water and soggy grounds around that well that can damage the components. “We received training in Water, Sanitation, Hygiene” said Justine, the communication officer for the Water Committee.
“The purpose of the toilet is to prevent open defecation, because when one defecates in the open, the fecal matter is brought by water flowing to the well.” “That’s why we were very motivated when we heard the awareness messages about clean water,” she added. “None in the village refused to participate, and we did all of the work here together.”
Now, when you go to Ambodifanova, the well in the center of town is not a dried-up, dirty waterpoint. It is a clean, secured, and ever-flowing access point for hydration and sanitation.
“Our kids were the ones who really suffered from diarrhea before, but today, there are no more cases of diarrhea,” Rajean said. “We thank ASOTRY. It is not only the committee who thanks them, but the whole village of Ambodifanova. You have done so much for the country—not only for our village but the whole country. Whoever comes here can drink from this water.”