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This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.
Xxxxxxxxxx, Tchaoudjo Prefecture, Central Region, Togo
The village of Xxxxxxxxxx is located in the Northeast corner of the Central Region of Togo. It is 27 km from the regional capital of Sokode and is nestled in the mountains between Sokode and the Benin border. Nearly all inhabitants are ethnically Kotikoli Muslim, and speak the language Tem. A minority of people (mostly educated males) speaks French.
The clinic and middle school serve Xxxxxxxxxx and six other surrounding villages. The total clinic catchment area is close to 4,000 people. The village of Xxxxxxxxxx itself has roughly 1,000 inhabitants. Most everyone in Xxxxxxxxxx is a farmer, owning at most 2 hectares of land, and participates in small animal husbandry, including raising goats, sheep, and chickens. Additionally, the village is known for its traditional fabrics made by local weavers.
The biggest health issues are malaria and diarrheal diseases. There is one pump in Xxxxxxxxxx. Most people get their water from open wells or the nearby stream, all of which usually dry up during the dry season.
In terms of fetching water, showering, finding vegetables, and other daily activities, living in Xxxxxxxxxx is difficult. However, although the villagers are isolated and live in poverty, they are open, friendly, welcoming, and eager to learn.
There is no clean water available at the Xxxxxxxxxx clinic and no water source at the Xxxxxxxxxx middle school. The lack of clean, running water at the clinic lowers the overall level of hygiene at the clinic, especially during births. The clinic staff makes village women, oftentimes the family members of women giving birth, bring water (oftentimes from the non-potable, open well nearby) to the delivery room to clean the room, supplies, bloody rags, etc. and to provide drinking water for the pregnant mother.
A lack of running water also makes it difficult for health practitioners to wash their hands regularly. There is no available drinking water for clinic staff and patients. Pregnant women are often forced to return to their homes during their pre-natal consultations to bring drinking water in order to take their anti-malarial medications. If the women come from outlying villages, they are forced to buy water to take their medications, which can be a barrier to some women.
The lack of a water source at the Xxxxxxxxxx middle school also presents a plethora of problems. Teachers and students alike do not wash their hands after defecating or before eating during recess. Food vendors do not have access to water to wash their hands before serving food to the children or to appropriately wash dishes between student use. The nurse has often seen waves of diarrheal diseases among students that stem from these food vendors' unsanitary practices.
Children also have no water to drink during the school day. Some students are forced to go without water all day, especially those who cannot return home during lunch because they live too far away. If a child is thirsty, they must walk to the stream 1 km away to drink dirty river water or ask households beside the school to give water.
Handwashing efforts at the school have failed because of this water access issue. Teachers even make female students fetch water from the stream during class, making them even more behind in their studies.
The Xxxxxxxxxx clinic was constructed in 2000. The original clinic construction included a tower and pipes to provide running water. Villagers or clinic staff would manually pump water every morning, which would be propelled into the sinks at the clinic.
When the clinic and water system was built, the workers stopped digging once they hit rock. Consequently, the running water was only available during the rainy season and dried up completely during the dry season. The running water system stopped working entirely in 2013. An Islamic NGO recently built a shallow well with a manual pump head mechanism close to the clinic. However, this pump head mechanism continuously breaks, and the well is not deep enough to sustain itself during the dry season.
This project is to rebuild the water system at the clinic and provide a new water source at the middle school by constructing a well.
The project funds will be used to dig this well deeper (with help from the Islamic NGO) and connect new piping to the original tower. The water will then be pumped into the clinic sinks using electricity (the village got electricity last year).
The second part of the project will build a new 15-meter well at the Xxxxxxxxxx middle school. The well will be covered with a manual pump head mechanism. A well-experienced plumber from Sokode is in charge of all technical construction. Villagers will provide unskilled labor (e.g., digging the well deeper, withdrawing water, sand collection at the riverbed, etc.).
The president of the Village Development Committee is the project leader and will coordinate the clinic and school water committees. The clinic nurse and middle school teachers will co-implement trainings with the PCV.
The already-established Committee for the Organization and Overview of Community Health will serve as the water committee for the repaired clinic water system. Several members of the parent teacher association, student leaders, and teachers, as well as the school director, will serve on the school water committee.
Both water communities will collect money periodically to make sure that there is always a current sum in their account to fix the systems at any given moment. The electricity bill for the improved clinic water system will be paid out of pharmacy and consultation revenues.
This project includes the following trainings: intensive WASH training (including treatment of water) with both water committees, handwashing and handwashing station construction training with the entire student body, and a gender equitable practices training with the middle school teachers. Fifteen water committee members (of the nineteen total for the two committees) will be able to identify at least three critical times to wash hands, as evidenced by pre- and post-tests.
4,000 inhabitants in the canton, including 260 students at the middle school, will benefit from the project.
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Monitoring and Maintenance
By participating in the water committee, five parents will strengthen the community-school relationship. Four students will also serve on the school water committee. These students will demonstrate leadership by motivating other students and food vendors to maintain school hygiene.
Observation logs will be used to monitor handwashing and water treatment at the school, improved hygiene by the school vendors, handwashing and water treatment at the clinic, and implementation of gender equitable practices by teachers in the classroom. By the end of the project, at least three teachers will have demonstrated gender equitable practices in the classroom.
The two water committees, one at the middle school and the other at the clinic, will ensure maintenance and sustainability of the project. The clinic water committee will be molded into the already well-established COGES committee. Future repairs to the water system will be paid for by the COGES's reserve account, which comes from pharmacy funds and village collections.
Because the new running water system will be powered through electricity, the clinic's monthly electricity bill will increase slightly. The clinic will still be responsible for paying all electricity bills.
The water committee at the middle school will be made up mostly of members from the Parent Teachers' Association, an active group in village. Repairs will come from the Middle School account, which gets money from school fees. The school water committee will collect money from students and their parents at the beginning of the project to add to the school account, and will continue this collection annually.
Both teachers and students in the water committee will ensure that water is treated before drinking and arrange work schedules to fill all classroom water buckets and handwashing stations.
Let Girls Learn
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the lack of water at the clinic and middle school. More specifically, the lack of water at the school has spiraling negative effects on girls' education in Xxxxxxxxxx.
Girls are often pulled out of class to fetch water. This trip can take up to thirty minutes, especially if they are going to the nearby stream. Lack of water also makes girls late for school because they have to fetch water for the classrooms or school food vendors in the morning before class.
Girls are less likely to come to school during their menstrual cycles because they know they will not have access to clean water. Because they do not come to school full-time, they become very far behind and must drop out or retake a grade level.
This project will not only provide a water source at the school but will also teach the teachers how to implement gender-equitable practices in the classroom. One teacher and the director of the middle school have already attended a Student Friendly Schools training and will help me facilitate the gender training and classroom observations.
The Water Charity participation in this project has been paid for by an anonymous donor.
Funds Needed :