We have now arrived in Madagascar. Due to the schedule of the flights, we had to fly in a couple of days earlier to be sure that we are in place when the field visit starts. We have spent the time exploring the city and its surrounding areas. At the moment Tana is a bit unstable so we chose to leave the city during the days. The smell of teargas is something we aren’t used to in Sweden.
Last night we were invited to dinner by Eva and his family, the man that is currently responsilbe for UNICEF‘s water and sanitation projects here in Madagascar. Very soon he and his family are moving to New York to continue his work, but on a more strategic and global level. So, from Antananrivo to New York and Manhattan. What a difference!
It was a true experiecne to come into their home and eat home cooked food. The buffet had a lot of goodies. Rice, plantanas, avocado big as melons, chicken scewers. So good! It was also very exciting to hear about the island from someone that has lived here for years and that can give us a different picture than the one we have read about. If you do a search you mainly find information about animals and nature. Not so much about the people. It was really nice to meet this passionate person, passionate about something that we with our Western eyes would see as strange, that is, toilets and sewers.
Tana (Antananarivo) is the fifth dirtiest city in the world. Out of the 2 million inhabitants, 20-25% have a toilet. The others take care of it elsewhere. Make a guess yourself where. During our road trip we saw a lot of plastic bags floating in the ditches. And in containers. Now I know what was in the bags. Even so, the smell is not that bad in this city. You would think it would smell more.
The women have the hardest time. We can’t just take it out discreetly like men can. The consequence is that many hold it in, which in turn leads to health problems. To get toilets in the schools is therefore one of the most important things that needs to be taken care of in order to have the girls come to school.
One of the challenges is that people don’t connect these toilet issues with health problems. What they don’t see is that if you go and take care of your business on the beach or in the water by the beach, the feces will come back into the city through the river and in turn make the water that you wash your clothes in and (yikes) cook your food in, the same water.
Well, this became a post about toilets. But as a matter of fact, this is what we discussed around the dinner table. After dinner Eva gave use a ride home. He didn’t think that a taxi would be safe enough for us. It is difficult to get a grip of the safety issue. I don’t know how unsafe the city really is. According to our co-travellers from UNICEF they usually keep a high level of security, but normally they get to leave the hotel. According to Eva the people here are very calm, and not as heated as in other cultures. But if something happens, the situation could become serious. His wife was recently robbed outside their house and yet they live in a safe neighborhood.
Now I am going to lay by the pool and read a book. I am so priviledged.
Bye for now!