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In southern Madagascar, a mother recalls going to bed hungry and thirsty

March 17, 2023
by Medair
In southern Madagascar, families go to bed and wake up hungry and thirsty, missing meals and drinking water because they don’t have anything to eat and drink.

In southern Madagascar, families go to bed and wake up hungry and thirsty, missing meals and drinking water because they don’t have anything to eat and drink. 

“The past months had been terribly difficult. Before, we drink water to fill in our empty stomachs before going to bed, but now it got worst. We end up sleeping hungry and thirsty and wake up with mouth and throat dried up because we don’t have food and water to drink,” Zaferina, a mother of 10 children, says. 

Due to long-term and severe drought in southern Madagascar, also known as Grand South, water sources are drying up making it difficult to grow food and look for water for drinking and for household and personal use. 

She and her husband spend most of their time searching and fetching water. For Zaferina and all their neighbours, fetching water would likely mean they no longer have time for other chores.  

“Most of the time, we find a water source after five hours of walking but the water we get is not enough to cover the needs of a family of 11. It is an exhausting chore,” she says. 

According to Zaferina, she and her husband used to start their day at four in the morning to go to a nearby river to scoop water from an almost dried-up river. 

Zaferina’s family poses for the camera. Zaferina and her husband used to bring their children with them to fetch water despite the long distance because no one was left in the house to look after them, but since access to water is close to their home, her children have more time to play around the neighbourhood.

“It takes five and half hours of walking before we could get water. I carry 15 litres on my head while my husband carries two buckets,” she adds. 

“We couldn’t go there every day because it’s very far and tiring. We are forced to manage using 45 litres of water for two days. The water is only limited to cooking and drinking, and we use soil for our hands. But sometimes, we go to bed and wake up with a dried mouth and throat because we no longer have water left in our containers,” she adds.

Zaferina’s struggles eased when Medair stepped up. Medair delivers water to different villages through a water truck in five water points.

“One of Medair’s water points is just a few meters from the house. Since then, we are less concerned about our supply of water. It has removed a huge and heavy burden for parents like us. At least now our concern is just what our children are going to eat,” she adds. 

Aside from providing access to water, Medair carries out hygiene promotions for drought-stricken affected populations to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases through improved personal, domestic, and food hygiene practices.

“Medair’s support is once in a lifetime, so the community takes an extra effort to ensure that the water points are well maintained. We have elected a set of officers to ensure the maintenance of the water points is looked into,” she adds.

One of the 10 children of Zaferina drinks water from a container.

Zaferina fills in a jerry can with water from the water point. Medair replenishes water in her village five times a week through a water truck.

Zaferina is one of the 8100 people in 16 villages that benefit from the project. At the time of writing, Medair is close to completion of the 54m3 reservoir and 7,9km pipeline, aiming to improve the health and well-being of villagers that need access to safe and clean drinking water.

This initiative is co-funded by Swiss Development & Cooperation, Rotary International, IndoSuez, Ernst Göhner Foundation, and Agence de l’eau.

Before drinking the water, villagers purify the water to ensure that they’re drinking a safe and clean water.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.
March 17, 2023
by Medair
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