On its way from the well to the home, clean groundwater is all too often contaminated. Alongside the construction or rehabilitation of manual boreholes Helvetas promotes education about health and hygiene in communities as well as in schools and health centers.
Building wells, washing hands and consuming drinking water
In Benin, despite recent progress, there are still disparities in access to clean water. In the Alibori department in the north of the country almost one person in two does not have access to clean drinking water. Hygiene and basic sanitation are still a challenge, for example, the rate of open defecation in rural areas is still very high (76%).
Having wells, however, is not yet a guarantee that the water is safe to drink. Analyses have shown that safe water from boreholes is contaminated by microbes during transportation and storage in households. It is therefore to raise awareness on good water hygiene behaviors.
The NimDora project aims to contribute to the access to safe water sources with building wells equipped with manual pumps or the rehabilitation of manual wells into solar-powered autonomous water stations. The solar works are equipped with taps that reduce the strain of drawing water for women and save them time for other income-generating activities.
At the same time, the project supports households in adopting healthy behaviors to preserve water quality at the point of consumption. More than 600 households have been involved in sensitization activities with a very simple and powerful tool to check whether the water stored at home is contaminated, and thus understand the need for transport and storage containers to be properly washed and protected.
Hygiene and health for communities
An unhealthy environment also influences water quality. To remedy this, the project implemented the Community Led Total Sanitation (ATPC) approach. This helps households understand the importance of latrines, getting used to handwashing, and a healthy living environment, all of which contribute to ensuring water quality at the point of consumption. With this approach, communities freely commit to building latrines without any subsidy: each household builds its own according to its financial means and inspiration.
Ensuring the proper management of the drinking water service
Municipalities that are responsible for providing drinking water to communities are supported to ensure that the pump is functional at all times and that everyone has access to it. This is made possible because households pay for the water service and the municipality holds public audit sessions to account for revenues and expenditures.
The project has helped municipalities to put in place mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of the public water utility that include tools for collecting charges and tracking expenditures. These mechanisms have enabled all the communes to improve the collection of their charges by at least 30% since the beginning of the phase.
Good water governance
Needs are identified from the villages and involve the communities at the grassroots level. These needs are then prioritized, starting with villages that have no access to clean water at all. The drinking water consumers' associations carry out citizen control and ensure that this planning is implemented at the communal level.
Through the previous project QualiEau, which was implemented in the same areas, Helvetas has built 138 wells and rehabilitated 93, giving almost 60,000 people access to clean water.
Nearly 900 households were impacted by the adoption of hygiene practices such as the use and maintenance of latrines, hand washing with soap and water or ash, and water quality from drawing water to consumption.
NimDora integrates improving access to water and learning good behavior in schools and health centers.