Improving sanitation in Madagascar
A member of the Rotary Club of Tamatave, Madagascar, signs a document on a new septic tank and water filtration system. Photo courtesy of Charles Welch
To improve sanitation and fight waterborne disease, the Rotary clubs of Paris-Est, Val-de-Marne, France, and Tamatave, Madagascar, are teaming up to provide more than 900 septic tanks and water filtration systems to families in Tamatave’s poorest areas, Mangarivotra and Mararano.
The project is supported by contributions totaling US$100,000, including a $42,000 Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation. Other clubs and districts in France and the United States have also donated funds.
Charles de Talhouet, the project coordinator and a member of the Paris-Est club, says the new equipment will benefit more than 7,000 people in a place where a lack of sanitary latrine areas often exposes families to waterborne diseases such as cholera.
"With clean water as one of Rotary's big targets, projects like this will help achieve our goal," says de Talhouet, who lived in Madagascar for years and built close ties to Rotarians there.
Charles Welch, a member of the Rotary Club of Chapel Hill-Carrboro Sunrise, North Carolina, USA, lived in Madagascar for 15 years and was a former member of the Tamatave club. After hearing that his former club planned on a sanitation project, Welch asked his club to get involved. His club raised $2,000 for the project, and Welch has been in frequent contact with Talhouet on the initiative's progress.
"There is a definite need for adequate sanitation in the poorer communities of Tamatave," says Welch. "Public and private latrines were in horrible condition. In most cases, they were just a dirty black hole. Rotary's response to this need will have an extraordinary impact."
The clubs also have partnered with Frères de Saint-Gabriel, a nonprofit that supports educational, social, and economic development in Madagascar, because of the group’s track record in installing 2,500 filters and septic tanks in Tamatave.
The organization's staff will select recipients and instruct them how to use and care for the equipment. To foster a sense of ownership, families will pay a $6 fee for the tanks and water filters and help build, transport, and install them.
Setting up the septic and water filtration units will take about 18 months. During this time, the Tamatave club will monitor the work and communicate with its partners.
In May, during the annual conference of District 9220, which includes Madagascar and six surrounding countries and geographical areas, 350 Rotarians met in Tamatave to ceremonially launch the project.
"Thanks to the family of Rotary, families in Tamatave will lead better lives," says de Talhouet.