More than 2.3 million Central Africans are in need of basic water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) assistance. There is a lack of facilities to cover the needs of the population. In addition, many existing facilities have been severely damaged during the multiple crises that have affected the country and need to be repaired.
Access to water is crucial in rural areas, where water is still too often supplied from cesspools and ponds. It is also a major issue in urban areas, where the problem revolves more around the deployment of drinking water and sanitation systems in informal urban areas.
In terms of sanitation, the government recommends the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. It allows communities to analyse their sanitary conditions, to become collectively aware of the interest of putting an end to open defecation and to build latrines.
In addition to meeting the vital needs of the population, WASH activities have a significant impact on other policies: health policy by helping to combat water-related diseases; economic recovery by supporting agricultural sector activities; inclusion by freeing women and young people from time-consuming water chores... This is why they play an important role in many of the programmes supported by the Bêkou Fund.
The Bêkou Fund contributes to the National Water and Sanitation Policy and Strategy (NWSSP) by providing the Central African population with improved access to water supply and sanitation facilities.
WASH activities are covered by the "Water for Peace, Water for Life" programme adopted by the Bêkou Fund at the end of 2017. Initially funded at €11 million, this programme has seen its budget increased to €13 million in 2020 to support the Central African authorities in their response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Bêkou Fund supports two projects in the framework of its WASH programme. These projects have quite similar activities: construction of boreholes, rehabilitation/construction of water points and latrines, hygiene education, etc. However, World Vision works mainly at the community level (micro level), while the UNICEF project also covers the meso level by supporting the National Agency for Water and Sanitation (ANEA).
- ANEA capacity building project for sustainable access to rural water and sanitation
The project, led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), will run for 39 months (until October 2021) in the prefectures of Kémo, Ombella-M'Poko, Ouham, Ouham Pende and Nana-Grébizi, as well as in the outskirts of the capital Bangui. It will build/rehabilitate 500 boreholes and latrines in 15 primary schools and 17 health facilities. It also aims to have 150 villages adopt the Community Led Total Sanitation approach. The project will also support ANEA in the elaboration of a long-term development plan (10 to 25 years). It will support four of its branches in Bossangoa, Kaga Bandoro, Paoua and Sibut.
Access to water and basic sanitation in priority areas in CAR
The project led by a consortium of NGOs coordinated by World Vision targets the prefectures of Ouham Pende, Sangha-Mbaéré, Bamingui-Bangoran and Vakaga. By February 2021, it plans to build 55 new boreholes, rehabilitate 74 water points, build 70 public latrines (in schools, markets and health centres) and construct 6,500 family latrines for the most vulnerable households. Hygiene awareness is one of its key activities: it is done in particular through the training of 258 community relays and the establishment of 70 hygiene clubs targeting the maintenance of public latrines.
Apart from this programme, many projects working in other thematic sectors also carry out water, hygiene and sanitation activities. This is the case of the RELSUDE programme, which has been operating since 2020 in the south-eastern part of CAR and which plans to set up or rehabilitate 150 water points, 42 public latrines and 910 family latrines in its 5 intervention prefectures.
Projects that support the return of refugees and internally displaced persons also include WASH components. Mercy Corps, as part of the "Ikoue Boumbi Ti Ya Bambari Na Ndouzou" project, has constructed 15 boreholes and rehabilitated 4 improved wells in the town of Bambari. Thanks to the improved well built in the Akpè 3 neighbourhood of Bambari, residents like Brigitte, a 50-year-old Central African widow, have stopped using the two surface water sources that were unhealthy: "You could see parasites, everyone in my family was getting sick and we were all contaminated with staphylococcus.” The rehabilitation of the well has also allowed community members to reduce their waiting time at the water point by three times.
Response to the Coronavirus pandemic
Preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Central African Republic (CAR) is an imperative in order to avoid seeing all the efforts made to recover the country since the end of the crisis destroyed. Since March 2020, the Bêkou Fund has made a commitment to the authorities and the population. Faced with the threat of the rapid spread of the virus, it mobilised more than 4.2 million euros, including 2 million euros for EHA activities.
In collaboration with the Central African authorities, UNICEF has set up 14 emergency water supply systems in Bangui: 12 are pumped from boreholes and 2 from tankers. UNICEF has also installed 60 public hand-washing stations: 30 in Bangui and 30 on the Bouar-Garoua Boulai corridor.
In addition, 2 800 handwashing devices (buckets and pieces of soap) have been distributed by partner organisations of the Bêkou Fund. In Zémio, the COOPI team has installed 320 of them in the public places most frequented by the population: places of worship, market entrances, health centres, schools, sites for internally displaced persons...
830 water points installed or rehabilitated since 2014
59 000 people have had new access to drinking water (COVID-19)
13 334 family latrines installed in 2019
4 300 handwashing facilities installed in critical locations (COVID-19).