Aquatabs: An income generating activity in Niger

In Niger, access rate to drinking water and sanitation remains low.  According to the Joint Monitoring Program 2013 report, 100% of the urban population had access to improved water facilities as of December 2011 and the percentage of the rural population with access was 39%.  As stated in the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Rural Development Strategy, drinking water supply for the population is a major problem and its improvement is one of the main priorities of the Government.

The support of some partners like USAID WA WASH Program helped to increase the access rate to drinking water through the promotion and sale of Aquatabs.  During its Phase I, USAID WA-WASH promoted Aquatabs in two regions including the region of Maradi, through ANIMAS SUTURA, a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) specialized in social marketing.

Aquatabs promoting and selling activities have become an income generating activity for many women in Maradi, like Amina Harouna living in the village of Guidan Gamou Bamba.  According to her, before the introduction of Aquatabs in the village, the population faced a number of problems.  Untreated water consumption was the cause of many waterborne diseases and infant mortality.  This situation remained for a long time a barrier to income generating activities for women.  In Guidan Gamou Bamba, many women like Amina Harouna went through the same difficulties.  Due to the support of USAID WA-WASH, Amina Harouna’s life has changed positively.  Nowadays, she is promoting and selling Aquatabs: «Behavior change is difficult in our communities.  When I started Aquatabs promotion, few people believed in the product efficiency.  But advocacy led people to accept using it.  I can sell an average of 200 tablets per month during the good times, but towards the end of dry season, selling becomes difficult.» says Amina Harouna.

Today, Aquatabs promotion and sale has allowed Amina Harouna to be very useful to her community members, mainly women. Because of the use of Aquatabs, most of women have more time for other activities like sheep and goats raising.  The income generated from these activities allowed them to face some of their family needs.  Amina Harouna welcomes the positive changes generated by the introduction of Aquatabs and the treatment of water at the household level.

At Barago (Zinder region in Niger), the chief of village made the commitment to maintain the ODF status of his community

The rate of access to improved sanitation in Niger was only at 4% in rural areas, against 9% for the national level in 2012.  During its Phase I in this country, the efforts of the USAID WA-WASH Program contributed to increase the sanitation access rate through the promotion of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach.

Barago (in Zinder region) is one of the villages that benefited from the Program’s CLTS activities. Through this approach, USAID WA-WASH intended to improve the living conditions of people in its intervention areas. Before the USAID WA-WASH Program activities, most of the population in the village used nature for their natural needs.  The chief of the village remembers this situation which created many diarrheal diseases especially among children.  “These diseases had bad consequences on the life of our community members.  In addition to children, women were very affected by the problem. When their children were sick, they were obliged to give up on some income generating activities to take care of them”, affirm chief of the village.

Nowadays, things have positively changed at Barago thanks to the awareness activities, the construction and the use of 36 CLTS latrines, and the support of the USAID WA-WASH Program.  The chief of the village played an important role in the building of latrines by supporting awareness activities.  According to him: “Since the USAID WA-WASH Program has started working with us, our village has become clean.  Nowadays, everyone uses latrine for his natural needs.  The village has a water and sanitation management committee.”  He also supports the management committee to encourage the community members maintaining a good sanitation status in the village.  The effort done by all the community members of Barago has helped to certified open defecation free.  “Thanks to USAID WA-WASH Program, we have less disease and fewer problems related to sanitation and hygiene” as told by the village chief Barago.