Every child deserves access to clean and safe water. It doesn’t matter where they live, who they are, or what boxes their parents tick on election day. Clean water is one of our most basic human rights.
A little while ago, I wrote about a project to provide children in Madagascar access to clean water. I had been contacted by WaterAid UK about their Madagascar Schools Appeal. The campaign seeks to improve the lives of 12,000 children in Madagascar by bettering their access to safe water and providing basics such as taps and toilets in schools. By doing this, WaterAid is also breaking down barriers to education, because a child who gets sick at school due to unsanitary water, is also a child who will miss out on education.
I wrote about Perlette, a little girl who wants to become a doctor – because she knows too well the reality of missing school due to sickness, and because she wants to help other children in her situation. I wrote too about her school in Tsimahavaobe village in Madagascar’s Menabe region. It is one of those benefitting from the campaign.
WaterAid UK got in touch again some time after the post went live. Their man on the ground in Madagascar, Ernest Randriarimalala, had been to Perlette’s school to see how the project had worked out. When he got there, he saw that the sanitation blocks had been built and the school now had running water.
Here’s what else Ernest had to say:
“Sanitation and running water had finally been brought to the area through a new block of toilets and fitted taps. Words cannot describe how I felt. Together, with WaterAid and the donations from generous people all over the UK, we’ve done something incredible and life-changing for these people and the generations that will follow and will have a great impact on the whole community. We’ve changed the lives of the children, the teachers and the parents. [...]
Watching smiling children, laughing and celebrating when they see water flowing from the tap for the first time, when they’re drinking clean water and using the new toilet block at the school, is simply unforgettable and magical. Some of them just can’t believe that it’s happened. They hide their happiness by hiding their faces with their hands. There are those that hesitate and have to stop and take a breath, checking if they really can use the facilities before going into the sanitation block.”
Perlette, the 13-year-old who wants to be a doctor, said this:
“We got something amazing. Now we can drink safe water and can use our separate compartment for girls only. We no longer have to poo by the mango tree. We now have more privacy because before there were sometimes boys looking at us around the mango tree when we went there. It was so humiliating for me as a girl. I also no longer have to miss school when I have my periods as I can use water here and use the compartment to change. I don’t want to miss school anymore because I want to be a doctor.”
Perlette’s words show the difference that campaigns such as the Madagascar Schools Appeal can make. This is the situation in Madagascar – and this is why children like Perlette need our help:
- More than 4000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
- More than 11 million people in Madagascar have no access to clean and safe water.
- More than 18 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation in Madagascar.
WaterAid hopes to reach 30 more schools in the next year – it is an aim which would bring clean water to 12,000 children. To learn more about the campaign and ways to help, you can visit WaterAid’s website and read about its Madagascar Schools Appeal. We take it for granted that our children will have clean and safe water at school. In Madagascar, parents can’t yet do the same.