Project Eau & Vie – Ivory Coast

for Eau & Vie
Project Eau & Vie – Ivory Coast

Aim and context of the assignment

Eau et Vie is an association with a mission to improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities in urban areas on a long-term basis. Its overall aim is to improve the lives of families in underprivileged districts by proposing an integrated approach combining lasting access to running water at home, better sanitation, management of waste, hygiene awareness, fire prevention and community-building. Eau et Vie gears its actions as closely as possible to each community’s needs, by mobilising its inhabitants in collaboration with the local authorities and local and international development players. The projects thus tie in with a sustainable development plan. The approach adopted by Eau et Vie is underpinned by social entrepreneurship and the micro-credit methodology, applied to water and waste management in urban environments. Eau et Vie is currently working in the Philippines and Bangladesh and is launching a project in Ivory Coast. In each country of intervention, two organisations are set up: a local social enterprise in charge of access to water and a local association in charge of the related services. The Eau et Vie model has now achieved wide recognition, notably among water supply concessionaires and international agencies.

The assignment 

Background: The population explosion in the major cities of Ivory Coast has not gone hand-in-hand with the provision of appropriate infrastructure. The situation is particularly critical in densely populated areas. Vital urban services are lacking in many underprivileged districts of Abidjan, forcing the population to live in insalubrious, precarious conditions. Families do not have access to insufficient water of an appropriate quality (between 15 and 40 litres of water per person per day), and there are no facilities for managing wastewater, human excreta or solid waste. The risk of fire is also high in these districts, due to the composition of the houses and difficulties of access for fire-fighters. The consequences for families can be seen on several levels: water-borne diseases, a high child mortality rate, girls dropping out of schooling, a low percentage of women in employment, child labour, economic difficulties, and social marginalisation. These communities, living on the urban fringes, find themselves in a vicious circle of economic and social vulnerability. The District of Abidjan (5 million inhabitants) does not have a wastewater and stormwater management system capable of meeting its population’s needs; wastewater is discharged without treatment into the lagoon. The underprivileged districts of the capital are hence facing critical situations that the District is powerless to address. The situation in the underprivileged districts of Yopougon is typical: wastewater and stormwater sewerage is almost non-existent, water stagnates and spreads numerous diseases, private and collective latrines are severely under-maintained and emptied during the rainy season (septic tanks spill over into the district during flooding), illegal water connections are contaminated by wastewater, and so on. These conditions are leading to widespread health and environmental problems.

Aims of the project: The aim is to improve the sanitary conditions for families and the environment in an underprivileged district of Abidjan. This project ties in with the integrated approach developed by Eau et Vie that aims to roll out a number of complementary activities over a period of 7 to 10 years:

1) Access to water: in partnership with the national drinking water agency (ONE) and water distribution company (SODECI), Eau et Vie’s local company is building the water network, distributing water, billing customers, collecting payments and maintaining the network.

2) Improved sanitation: the local NGO created by Eau et Vie is performing an assessment of the existing sanitation services (mapping the wastewater drainage systems, discharge points and existing latrines). Ad-hoc solutions for draining wastewater and stormwater and for completing or renovating latrine equipment are being rolled out in partnership with the local authorities, the community and sector professionals.

3) Hygiene awareness: the NGO implements actions to promote the importance of hand washing once access to water has been guaranteed, and then on the proper use of latrines. This is primarily in order to encourage inhabitants to change their habits and practices on a long-term basis.

4) Waste management: having performed a feasibility study and mapped the sector stakeholders, the NGO is developing a primary collection service suited to the needs of the families in the district.

5) Fire prevention: in partnership with the Abidjan fire department, the NGO is setting up a complete fire prevention system by recruiting and training voluntary fire-fighters among the district’s inhabitants, equipping the volunteer brigades with small-scale fire-fighting equipment, and installing fire hydrants on the district’s water network.

6) Community-building: the training sessions provided to communities (fire prevention, actions to raise awareness of water, sanitation, the environment and hygiene) and the creation of activity-based committees contribute to bolstering the social and political organisation of these underprivileged districts (acquisition of knowledge and skills, improvement of self-esteem, group cohesion, interaction with local authorities, etc.).

The “Improvement of sanitation infrastructure in an underprivileged district of Abidjan” project has three specific objectives:

a) Improve wastewater management

b) Improve stormwater collection and drainage

c) Provide access to improved latrines

Eau et Vie requests support from the Artelia Foundation to complete the assessment phase and to develop ad hoc solutions to improve sanitation in the targeted district.

 Skills-based sponsorship requested

– A wastewater and stormwater management expert

– A latrine expert

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