WASH = Water And Sanitation & Hygiene


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.

WC in Madagascar

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!

About Victoria Lidquist

I have worked for IKEA for ten years now. I started in the store in Örebro as a restaurant manager. Now I am in Helsingborg working as a salesleader for Children’s IKEA in Sweden. I live in Helsingborg and during my spare time I enjoy reading books, running and being with friends.

Water supply program in Gunda village

On Thursday we visited Gunda village and the local primary school to learn about the community water supply.

The children had a surprise for us. When we arrived they were waiting for us in front of the school in a big group with a wonderful bouquet and sang a greeting song for us. It was a very touching moment. Then they presented us with the well (and its operation) which is in a closed place and they are guarding it.

Children in Ethiopia pump water from a well

© Judit Kocsis

Child drinks from a well in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

This well is very useful, because it makes their lives so much easier. Before they had it, the women and girls used to have to walk many kilometers to find fresh water, and they had to walk barefoot in a stream, so they often cut their feet on the rocks. Now the well is close to their homes.

A child pumps water from a well

© Judit Kocsis

Each family donates 1 birr ( =13 HUF, = 0,04 EUR) a month and it’s put into a bank account, which they manage, in case of problems. The well is 13 m deep and gives fresh and clean water to 40 families (on average there are seven members in a family) so it serves 280 people.

After that we visited a traditional house and household. This was very pretty. It has a living- and bedroom together. Children sleep in the living room, parents sleep on the loft and in the house is a separate room for sheep. The kitchen is in a separate building. In the kitchen a woman brought out some cotton which is used for making clothes and bags. Anita and Sara tried to spin it. It was very funny, because only Sara could do it the right way. The toilet is separate too, and they can wash their hands there. This is a very big thing, because they couldn’t do it before.

Two women in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

Sara learns to spin cotton

© Judit Kocsis

A woman shows a string of cotton

© Judit Kocsis

At the end of the visit the local people entertained us for a picnic and we had an opportunity to taste some kind of beans and seeds. They made us a traditional local food (named fir-fir) which is Katrina’s favorite Ethiopian food: bread (which is rather like a pancake, but the batter is lighter) with a vegetable puree. This has an interesting taste. The bread is a little sour and the puree is very hot. I didn’t like it very much because I don’t like spicy foods. And they made for us a very tasty coffee.

A woman serves injera bread

© Judit Kocsis

A woman with dried beans

© Judit Kocsis

Children at a picnic in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

Visitors eat lunch with a community in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

About Judit Kocsis

I'm working as a shop assistant in the children, family and bedroom department. I'm studying art, film history and film theory at college. I will graduate this year. In my free time I take photos and make films. These are my main hobbies, but I like to read books and watch movies also.