Clean Drinking Water and Hygiene Make for Good Health

Helvetas advocates for the population to have a say in water management issues and raises hygiene awareness in Madagascar. Local authorities are learning to include and oversee private service providers in the water sector.

  • Project Name
    Well-Managed Drinking Water in the Miandrivazo Region
  • Project Phase
    2015 to 2021
  • Funding
    This Project is funded by donations and Charity: Water.
  • Thematic focus

Safe water makes for good health

Clean water is conspicuously scarce in certain regions of the world. In the Sahel or Ethiopia, for instance, women often have to walk for hours to fetch water for their families. And then there are countries that do have enough water, but the people do not know how to keep natural spring water clean or that latrines are essential to the health of a village community.

This is the case in Madagascar. Except for a few arid zones, the country has sufficient precipitation to replenish springs and groundwater. And yet only half the population have access to clean water, and a mere 12% to latrines or toilets. So it is not surprising that every year some 4,000 children die of diarrhea or other gastrointestinal diseases in Madagascar. That is more than 10 children a day.

© Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Wells are fenced in to keep animals away. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
With this simple system hand washing is child's play even without running water. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger

In the center of the country, around Miandrivazo, Helvetas supports the authorities as well as schools and health centers in their efforts to improve the water supply, sanitary installations and hygiene. The municipal authorities in charge of the water supply are neither trained nor equipped for this responsibility. They have insufficient funds and there are precious few private companies here that know how to build water supply or sanitary facilities.

Helvetas is concentrating on the authorities, fitting them out with the necessary know-how and skills to plan water supply facilities, to demand support from the state and to work with the private sector. In small towns the authorities now seek to cooperate with private investors willing to participate in financing water systems and ensure the maintenance thereof in exchange for permission to charge for water consumption. We help the authorities organize and oversee the new partnership between the private companies and government.

We use schools to spread the word about hygiene in Madagascar. The schoolchildren learn to wash their hands after going to the toilet and before eating, and they bring what they have learned home to their parents.

© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
With songs and verses, the children playfully learn how important clean hands are. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Comics also convey the information about hygiene and cleanliness. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Soon the simple rules are internalized - and are carried into their families by the children. © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger


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.

How Helvetas Supports People in Madagascar

Improved income for small farmers, better hygiene, clean drinking water and the protection of water resources are some of our priorities.