Proving safe water in response to COVID-19

Proving safe water in response to COVID-19

Fanja Saholiarisoa
La borne fontaine d'Ampasika
UNICEF Madagascar/2020
15 July 2020

Access to safe water is a key tool in the fight against COVID-19 in Madagascar. But for many families it is a resource that remains out of reach, either due to distance or the cost of using public water points, particularly in urban areas. In three cities hard-hit by the virus - Antananarivo, Toamasina and Moramanga – UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation in facilitating water supply to vulnerable households.

As a result of the project, the price of water at standpipes across the city has been reduced by more than half. Ravaonoro Jeanne said she was surprised that the cost of the 20-liter jerry can of water was now just 20 Ariary ($0.0052), as opposed to the 50 Ariary she would normally pay. 

Judicaël operates the standpipe the Ankasina neighborhood of Antananarivo that Ravaonoro and dozens of others use every day. “Everyone is happy with this announcement,” he says. “We have been selling water at the price that was given to us, and the community has really benefited.”

The initiative, called “Avotr’Aina” in Malagasy, or Saving Lives, is the result of a collaboration between UNICEF, the Ministry of Water and the urban municipalities of the three cities. Following the agreement, in which UNICEF supports to ministry to reduce the cost of water, a municipal decree was issued to set water prices in line with the subsidized tariff for Antananarivo, Toamasina and Moramanga for three months. Some 2,000 standpipes will apply these tariffs, benefitting 600,000 vulnerable people.

The ‘Avotr'Aina" campaign also engages community mobilizers who work at the standpipes to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention, such as frequent handwashing and maintaining a safe distance from others.

Romina Nivo Irma is one of the facilitators working in the district of Ankasina. She crisscrosses neighborhoods to raise awareness and help people stay informed and protected. "Our awareness raising primarily concerns the importance of water in prevention as well as barrier methods to be used, such as wearing a mask. I explain all this to each person who comes for water,” explains Romina Nivo, who has also set up devices for washing hands with soap at the standpipes.

She says the COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s interest in and awareness of access to water. "We are washing our hands more often as it is said that this is one of the measures that can save our lives during this crisis,” explains Ravaonoro Jeanne.


Romina l'animatrice sur les gestes barrières sur le terrain
UNICEF Madagascar/2020
borne fontaine à Antananarivo
UNICEF Madagascar/2020