Izerik Moussa Idriss is a plumber in Kélo, a city in southern Chad. Today, when he hops onto his moped, he can go about his work knowing that at the end of the day he won’t have the stress and fatigue of trekking long distances in search of drinking water.
“Seven years ago, it was hard for us to get drinking water. The water that was available was dirty and put people at risk of water-borne diseases,” said Izerik. “Today, things are much better. We have lots of taps and water supply points pretty much all over the city. Everyone now has access to drinking water.”
Access to potable water has improved the quality of life of everyone in Kélo, a community that relies on agricultural activities. Augustine Feco, the general secretary of the Kélo Women’s Association, echoed Izerik’s words: “In the past, we used to travel long distances to get water. Some of us just used rain water. It was difficult for families to live. Now, things are better,” she said.
The Rural Drinking Water and Sanitation Programme (PAEPA) was launched in 2013, with funding of $27.4 million (80% of the project cost) from the African Development Fund, the concessional financing window of the African Development Bank Group.
Thanks to PAEPA, the level of access to drinking water in rural areas in southern Chad is now around 60%, with access to sanitation at 30%. Even better, the prevalence of water-borne diseases has fallen to 16% from 23% in 2011, as anticipated in the project’s evaluation report.
“Drinking polluted water was the cause of several diseases, particularly cholera and typhoid fever. Many children used to be sick on a regular basis because of the lack of drinking water at home,” explained Vincent Ngaradoum, a senior consultant at Kélo hospital. “We haven’t had any cases of cholera at the hospital since PAEPA was introduced. It’s a very positive outcome,” he added.
The project has resulted in the construction of a lot of drinking-water infrastructure. As well as in Kélo, facilities are now available in the towns of Pala, Laï, Fianga, Léré, Kyabé, Koumra and Moissala and also in some rural areas in the regions of Tandjilé and Mayo-Kebbi, in the east and west. They include 856 wells, 1,228 latrines, 408 septic tanks, almost 104,000 metres of water pipes and 318 soakaways. PAEPA now provides over a million people with drinking water and another 154,000 with sanitation services, said Chérif Djamal, the PAEPA coordinator.
The programme has created around 2,000 temporary and permanent jobs, and has helped build capacity among stakeholders so they can take over managing the infrastructure. The people who have benefited take the task extremely seriously.
“We are a women’s association and are committed to making people aware that they shouldn’t just throw their waste anywhere or pollute the environment,” said Augustine Feco of the Women’s Association. “We’ve been trained in sanitation thanks to the PAEPA project and we’re working to make sure Kélo stays clean, to avoid diseases. Life is better now.”