© Helvetas/Stéphane Brabant

Clean Water – from the Well Pipes to the Drinking Bowl

© Helvetas/Stéphane Brabant

On its way from the well to the home, clean groundwater is all too often contaminated. So Helvetas promotes education about health and hygiene in connection with many new and repaired wells.

  • Project Name
    QualiEau protects water quality
  • Project Phase
    2020 to 2022
  • Funding
    This project is funded by donations.

Building Wells and Washing Hands

Women giving birth are expected to bring the water they need to the maternity clinic themselves? Yes, this is standard practice in northern Benin. Even health centers there lack water for medical care as well as for washing linen and cleaning equipment and rooms. The contaminated water people bring to the health centers is a health risk for mothers and newborn infants alike. The water shortage goes to show how far northern Benin still is from having a reliable supply of clean water.

In the previous 5-year phase, Helvetas supported the construction and rehabilitation of more than 140 wells for nearly 40,000 people at healthcare facilities, schools and villages. The QualiEau (i.e. “Quality Water”) project aims to provide wells for another 20,000 people. But building wells is not enough. Studies have shown that clean well water is usually contaminated with germs during transportation and household storage. So each well project also involves education about the connections between water, hygiene and health.

© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
The mobile well repairers are there when a well is defective. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
The maintenance work is paid for from the fees for the maintenance of the well collected by the well tenants. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas / Rothenberger
The maintenance work is paid for from the fees for the maintenance of the well collected by the well tenants. © Helvetas / Rothenberger
© Helvetas
Women who live near the wells are often trained as well tenants. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
As well tenants women can earn an additional income. © Helvetas

In order to promote the water supply, hygiene and the building of latrines, Helvetas works directly with municipal authorities and communities (who implement the project themselves) to support them in developing the technical and administrative know-how. Water management committees charge a few cents for every jerry can of water drawn from a public well. The consumers know they are not paying for the water itself, but for the upkeep of the well. Women who live nearby are often trained to take care of a well and can earn a little money on the side in this capacity. So they have an economic interest in keeping “their” well clean and operational.

«We used to have problems with infections, because the water that the patients’ families brought was often not clean.»

Nafissatou Bagana, midwife at the Sirarou maternity ward, Benin

© Helvetas
In the past, patients and babies had to bring their own water to the Sirarou infirmary in northern Benin. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Today, there is a well on the site that supplies water to the infirmary, maternity ward and the nearby school.Heute steht ein Brunnen auf dem Gelände, der sowohl die Krankenstation, die Maternité wie auch die nahe Schule mit Wasser versorgt. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
The delivery room can now be cleaned thoroughly, in the past the nurses could not carry more than the absolute minimum necessary from the far away water point. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Thanks to the new washbasin, midwife Nafissatou Bagana is able to wash her hands regularly. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Hygiene is important in the examination of pregnant women. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
If the well water is pumped up into the water tower, it flows out of the tap in the treatment room. A cistern also collects rainwater. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
The conditions in the remote maternity unit are simple but clean. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Many women come here to be examined. © Helvetas
© Helvetas
Sabi Baké's first child died after birth. But this child shall live. According to the midwife, infections in mothers and children have decreased since clean water was introduced. © Helvetas


The most vulnerable communities suffer from dirty and scarce water. Annually we help up to 500,000 people get new access to drinking water and basic sanitation.

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