The Niger government has declared the right to water the most important right of all. And yet in large parts of the country this declaration is still written only in the (desert) sand. 50% of the rural population have only very limited access to clean drinking water, and 30% none at all. Basic sanitation is even scarcer. Only 5% of the rural population have access to a latrine. The poor water quality has a drastic impact on infant mortality: one in six children dies before reaching the age of five. Contaminated drinking water and malnutrition are the principal causes of the high infant mortality rate.
In view of the water scarcity, it comes as no surprise that access to water is an enduring bone of contention in Niger. Conflicts often break out between nomads and sedentary cattle breeders and farmers. Helvetas has been working on improving the water supply here since 2012. We also provide support for the building of communal and family latrines, which give hundreds of thousands of people access to basic sanitary facilities. This improves the hygiene situation and, in particular, keeps germs out of the groundwater. In addition, Helvetas builds livestock watering tanks to improve the health of cattle and reduce conflict potential between nomadic and sedentary communities.
Helvetas makes sure that the communities assume responsibility for their own water supply. The authorities and the population are included in the planning to allow for the needs of everyone concerned. A control and service system is drawn up jointly to guarantee effective and sustainable operation. Training the competent officials for these tasks is another integral part of this project.
Visit the website of Helvetas Niger.