A visit to the ACF Madagascar Project

I’m on a joint visit with our AOTR to visit the ACF Madagascar project in Antananarivo. The purpose of the visit is a) to gain firsthand knowledge of the project and the key stakeholders; and b) to discuss implementation strategy, progress and challenges with the WSUP team, CARE and WaterAid.

The Madagascar ACF Project was initially on hold due to the current political crisis and only began implementation on Oct 01 following a positive recommendation from USAID Madagascar Mission.

The ACF project in Antananarivo focuses on two peri-urban Communes: Andranonahoatra with 44,150 inhabitants and Bemasoandro with 33,000 inhabitants. It will build on the existing relationships and experience gained under the Rano Soa sy Fidiovana Project, supported by WSUP, started in 2006 for 12 Communes in the FIFTAMA and the Urban Commune of Antananarivo (CUA).

The needs here are urgent. Approx 30% of the inhabitants in Andranonahoatra and Bemasoandro lack a safe drinking water supply and ill health from poor sanitation coverage and solid waste management is the norm. The ACF project will provide approximately 15,750 people with access to an improved water supply, 6,600 people with access to improved sanitation and 61,000 people will be reached through health and hygiene promotion.  The project will receive significant inputs from WSUP members, CARE and WaterAid.

One of the challenges faced by WSUP in Tana is the resistance by local leaders to a policy of full cost recovery of water supplied through tapstands. There is an entrenched belief by some local leaders that water at tapstands should be free. But experience tells us that this ultimately consigns water infrastructure to continual breakdown from lack of proper maintenance and stagnation from a lack of investment. This belief is contrary to the 1998 Water Code of Madagascar that promotes cost recovery through customer tariffs. Since then civil society organisations in Tana have been working hard to advocate for cost recovery measures in new infrastructure, despite constant pressure from local leaders vying for support from the people.

On our visit today, we saw the good work implemented under a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant. A laundry block was in full swing with clothes being cleaned and buckets being filled, and cash changing hands. The toilet block attached seemed to be making a good trade. Business seemed to be good.

Users pay for water in buckets for washing clothes. Others collect in the yellow containers to carry home.

Some very clean clothes in Tana.

And later, a visit to another WSUP supported sanitation block that had been operating for a only a few months.

WSUP supported sanitation block

In the spirit of continual learning, the empty shelves did suggest that the operator was missing a trick.

A prime opportunity to place the sanitation block as a centre of ‘hygiene excellence’, selling soap, washing bars, household treatment consumables and other goods?

In fact, steps to diversify the business are being planned, along with monitoring the number of users and income per month against actual expenditures, and comparing with the projected costs in the business plan. Demonstrating financial viability of these community sanitation models alongside strengthening of the capacity of the local Communes is central to WSUP’s vision of triggering alternative financing for scaled up programmes at the city level.

More updates from Tana during the week.

About Andy Narracott

Urban water and sanitation professional. Programme Coordinator for the USAID African Cities for the Future Programme.
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