The lack of access to safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation has serious repercussions
A large number of the issues regarding sanitation and water quality in Cote d’Ivoire can be attributed to the domestic conflict that ended in 2007. The conflict damaged crucial water supply infrastructure, especially in the north, and post-conflict reconstruction has overshadowed maintenance and repair of these systems. Over eight million people in Cote d’Ivoire lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, which increases the risk of water-related diseases. Over four million people lack access to safe drinking water. These numbers increase in rural areas, where 46 per cent of the rural population lacks access to clean water and 87 per cent lacks access to sufficient sanitation.
The crisis of water quality in Cote d’Ivoire is characterised by two key problems. First, many communities, especially rural ones, face difficulties not only accessing safe drinking water, but also accessing enough of it. Second, there are many difficulties in accessing sewage infrastructure and proper bathrooms, especially in urban areas. The issue is multi-faceted, and impacts both urban and rural communities in different ways.
The above issues increase the risk of transmission of water-borne diseases, such as cholera. Guinea worm was also common, though it was eradicated in 2007. Unsafe drinking water increases child mortality rates. Currently, many children die from diarrhea and similar diseases.
Urbanisation is one of the main causes of the current water crisis. After the civil war, the capital city of Yamoussoukro experienced a massive influx of internally displaced people. The city doesn’t have enough wells or adequate sewage and sanitation facilities to support this increase in the population, exacerbating existing issues in the city.
The water crisis also has an impact on education. According to USAID, “As a result of having to collect water to drink and shower before going to school, all the children in the neighborhood were constantly tired and sick, and their academic performance suffered.” This particularly disadvantages girls, who mainly carry the burden of fetching water for their families. Even when they are able to attend school, they often don’t have access to separate sanitation facilities.
Many organizations are addressing the crisis of low water quality in Cote d’Ivoire. Charity Water has funded 190 separate projects in the country and has invested $1,146,687 as of November 2017. UNICEF Water and Sanitation takes a multi-pronged approach, supplying clean drinking water straight to communities, schools and hospitals, promoting sanitation and hygiene and surveying the epidemiological impacts of the low water quality to prevent water-related diseases. The Urban Water Supply Project aims to improve water quality and access to water (especially in overcrowded urban areas) and to strengthen the financial management and financial planning capacity of the National Water Agency in its urban water supply sector.
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