Improving the lives of African communities with clean water and sanitation access
Cocoa-producing communities under the Nestlé Cocoa Plan (NCP) are benefiting from better sanitation and safe drinking water in Côte d’Ivoire.
Thousands of Ivorians from 110 villages are now able to use clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, as part of Nestlé’s established partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Villagers in about 80 NCP communities are working together as part of an independent initiative called Community led total sanitation (CLTS), which was introduced earlier this year to encourage communities to voluntarily improve their surrounding living areas and end open defecation.
“At the beginning of the year, our villages only had eight toilets for 83 households, which housed 667 people in total,” explained Gue Baya, village chief of Seidrou (Bangolo) in Western Côte d’Ivoire.
“As part of the initiative, once we understood the importance of toilets, young people from the village volunteered to dig holes to make a toilet for each household. Families then formed small groups to buy a pack of cement to build slabs to cover the holes. The IFRC trained the village mason, who built the slabs for free.
“Today, we have stopped our old practices of open defecation. Every household has their own toilet in our village. The only cost is that it has united us together,” he added.
The N’Drikro village (Gagnoa) in the country’s Central-Western area is another community that is benefiting from the CLTS initiative.
“At the beginning we thought that the IFRC would build toilets and clean our village,” Yao Konan, community leader of N’Drikro. “But it went beyond that. We began to understand and accept that the clean-up process should solely be done by us, so we quickly established an action plan for the community.
“The IFRC were on hand to supervise and each family carried out activities. Today we have a beautiful village, which is of great satisfaction. We are all proud,” he concluded.
The initiative has been so successful that the villages have been recognised by the Ivorian government for their work in the area.
30 communities were awarded with the open defection free (FDAL for its French abbreviation) certification, which acknowledges those who meet some performance criteria.
This includes the number of latrines or toilets present, the usage rate of toilets, the level of safety and maintenance of toilets, the willingness of the community, environmental hygiene, the plot’s hygiene and the cleanliness around the village.
This type of sanitation project aims to benefit about 88,500 people, of whom over half are women, 110 villages and 50 schools across Côte d’Ivoire.
World Toilet Day
Community projects like this highlight the importance of the annual United Nations’ World Toilet Day on November 19.
This year, the global event is focusing on ‘Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation’, which aims to inspire action and highlight the urgency to end open defecation, especially for women and girls who are particularly vulnerable.
Providing better sanitation and improving water access can also positively impact on human health and development by changing people’s behaviour, and in turn, address issues such as under-nutrition and reduce stunting.
Nestlé aims to be part of the solution and has committed to provide 350,000 people in local communities with access to water, sanitation or hygiene projects around its manufacturing facilities, and in areas where it sources raw materials, by 2016.
To help do this, the company formally teamed up with the IFRC in 2002, extending the partnership in 2006 and in 2010.
Nestlé renewed its partnership with the IFRC again in 2014 and committed to contribute CHF 5 million over five years to improve access to sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services in rural areas and schools in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
To date about 400,000 people have been impacted, exceeding Nestlé’s 2016 target. This includes 200,000 in Côte d’Ivoire, including NCP communities.
Villagers have also learnt about how to prevent diarrhoeal diseases, currently the world’s second leading cause of death in children under five according to the World Health Organization. The IFRC’s practice of ‘Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation’ to raise awareness on the importance of hand washing is core to the initiative.
Access in Ghana
In 2015, Nestlé and the IFRC extended the partnership to Ghana, where in both urban and rural areas, improved sanitation is available to a small proportion of the population.
It aims to improve access to sustainable wash services for over 100,000 people in the country.