Photo Essay: Transforming Vulnerable Communities Through Water Access in Madagascar

Photo credit: WADA

Long-time development partners USAID and The Coca-Cola Foundation, through their Water and Development Alliance (WADA) global partnership, recently launched a project to improve access to safe water and sanitation services in three of Madagascar’s major urban centers. The NGO Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor will implement the activity.

Julius Ambah, Coca-Cola Director for Islands and Mid Africa, laying the first brick at a WADA Madagascar water kiosk. Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA
Acting USAID Mission Director Chris Milligan providing remarks during the project launch ceremony. Photo credit: A.G. Klei/USAID

By the end of 2020, this project will reach more than 450,000 of the most vulnerable Malagasy people living in low-income areas and informal settlements with improved access to safe water and sanitation services.

Around the world, WADA partners with communities and their governments to address challenges and harness opportunities connected to water. WADA’s enterprise-driven approach brings together Coca-Cola’s business capabilities with USAID’s premier development expertise to create solutions that develop thriving communities, grow stable economies, and strengthen resilient environments.

Global Partners, Local Solutions

Madagascar is urbanizing at twice the rate as the rest of the world, with an estimated 4.5 percent urban growth rate and approximately one-third of the total population already living in urban areas. Every month, cities across Madagascar grow by tens of thousands — growth often concentrated in informal settlements with limited access to water and sanitation services as the demand outstrips local capacity. While this growth offers immense opportunity for Madagascar to unlock economic potential, this can only be achieved through building healthy communities with safe and sustainable access to basic services such as drinking water and sanitation.

Madagascar is urbanizing rapidly. While this trend creates great economic and development potential, it also poses challenges. A.G. Klei/USAID

Climate change compounds these complexities for the world’s fourth largest island; flooding, droughts, and increased cyclone activity damages infrastructure, reduces availability of clean water, and increases the spread of disease.

Many low income and informal settlements reside in flood-prone areas which lack access to sanitation service — often leading to health challenges. Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA

In response to these challenges, the WADA Madagascar project will focus on building the capacity of national institutions and local communities to effectively deliver and manage water and sanitation services. This will empower Malagasy people and institutions to withstand shocks such as public health crises and extreme climate events. Such improved capacity will serve as a critical step in Madagascar’s journey to self-reliance and sustainable development.

WADA Madagascar is working with the national water utility JIRAMA, national and city governments, and local communities to extend water services into unserved low-income areas. The project aims to transform residents’ lives through an increase in the number of hours that water is supplied per day, an increase in the volume and pressure of water supplied, and an improvement of the water quality. Multiple activities will contribute to this transformation, including construction of new infrastructure and the reduction of water losses through leak detection and repair.

By improving national water utility JIRAMA’s ability to repair and prevent leaks, WADA is empowering the service providers to provide reliable sustainable water access to the growing urban population. Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA
Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA

The project will also support construction of communal sanitation and laundry blocks — providing community members with both an environmentally sustainable (non-polluting) location to wash clothes and the means with which to pursue entrepreneurial enterprises in the form of laundry services.

Laundry blocks like this one empower women to pursue entrepreneurial activities and protect
local streams and rivers from soap runoff Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA

Water kiosks are central to the model of delivering sustainable water across Madagascar’s low-income communities and ensuring that JIRAMA is equipped with the tools and capacities needed to effectively serve the growing Malagasy population. Local communities manage the kiosks, which provide valuable employment opportunities, enable low-income residents who cannot afford household connections to access safe and affordable water directly from the citywide water network, and ensure the national water utility JIRAMA is able to collect revenue on the water it delivers.

Water kiosks provide reliable and affordable water to low income residents who can’t afford household connections. Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA
Water kiosks such as this one provide affordable and reliable water to low income residents. Photo credit: Tsilavo Rapiera/WADA

USAID and Coca-Cola are committed to transforming communities in need to overcome their development challenges and empowering them to sustainably thrive in the 21st century. Learn more about WADA here.

By the Water and Development Alliance Secretariat


This article appears in Global Waters, Vol. 9, Issue 3; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on USAID.gov.