The Madagascar Water Crisis: Why You Should Care

The island nation of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa is facing a water crisis leaving 11.7 million people, almost 50 percent of their population, without clean drinking water. This is why you need to care:

Here’s an overview of the problem.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world with a population that’s growing faster than its economy, according to WaterAid. Because of the enormous disparity between urban and rural communities 66 percent of people in urban areas have access to safe water but fewer than 15 percent of people in rural areas do making overcoming poverty virtually impossible for them.

It affects children.

Malagasy children are confronted by poverty every day. Children drink and bath in stagnant ponds which livestock also use to wash in because it’s their only option, according to Global Citizen. Many of the children who drink the water from these ponds and streams and face unhygienic conditions frequently have diarrhea and related illnesses. Children under 5 years old are the most susceptible and almost 4,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, according to WaterAid. Cases of malaria have also been increasing, and it remains the primary cause of death among children, according to Humanium.

It affects adolescent girls and their education.

Only 66 percent of children finish primary school which can be attributed to the low attendance rate and high dropout rate, especially among girls, according to Humanium. Even though 49 percent of primary school children are girls, 78 percent of Madagascar’s school districts show girls’ enrollment lower than that of boys and in districts where the gender gap is greatest, barely five girls are enrolled in lower secondary school for every 10 boys, according to Unicef.

High dropout rates among adolescent girls can be traced back to the lack of clean water that’s available. Many Malagasy girls dropout of school because they have to spend three to four hours of their day collecting water.

“Twice a day I’d have to [collect water], it gave me stomach ache as the water was yellow. I couldn’t go to school and had to go to the doctor,” said Malalatiana Rasoanisina, a child from the Mahaiza Province in Madagascar. She would often get sick from drinking dirty water and regularly miss school to collect water from an unsafe spring, according to WaterAid. The path to the spring was slippery and dangerous and she often fell and spilled the water, forcing her to return to the spring and collect more.

Another contributing factor to high dropout rates among adolescent girls is because of the lack of sanitation in their schools. Many adolescent girls drop out when they are menstruating because of either the lack of sanitation or they do not have separate toilets for girls. Research in rural areas pointed out that it is extremely difficult for rural adolescent girls to manage their period, according to Period Media, causing them to dropout.

Why You Should Care?

Because you can do something to help. Yes, even all the way from Milwaukee. 

Here are ways you can make a difference.

Tell your friends: Follow WaterAid, on social media to join the conversation and stay updated with news, photos and videos. Sharing information on social media is the fastest and easiest way to share what you care about with your friends and help them get involved, too.

Educate yourself: Doing research about issues is the first step to solving them. Use these resources to learn more about the Madagascar water crisis and other countries facing this problem.

Donate: Making a small donation can make a big difference.

A one-time donation of 20 dollars can pay for a well for a community of 100 people and 40 dollars can pay for a bathroom for a community of 150 people. If you’re able to make smaller, monthly donations two dollars a month can pay for a rainwater collection system and 5 dollars a month can provide a locally made hand pump for a whole village.

It’s cool to help.

These celebrities are using their stardom to promote the issue of water and sanitation:

Kendall Jenner.

On Nov. 3, Jenner asked her fans to donate $22 to charity:water, an organization that helps people in developing countries access safe drinking water. By Wednesday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $61,000, including $5,000 from Adidas, according to Global Citizen.

Matt Damon.

In 2009, Damon co-founded Water.org, a microfinance organization that enable families in developing countries to build clean water and sanitation systems. Water.org has made 1.6 million small loans affecting 7 million people around the world, according to Global Citizen. Damon’s newest Water.org campaign is a collaboration with Stella Artois. The purchase of a Limited-Edition Stella Artois Chalice helps provide 5 years of clean water to someone in the developing world. Buy the chalice here: https://water.org/stellaartois/

Kristen Bell.

Bell marked her 30 birthday by raising nearly $70,000 for clean water through charity:water, according to Global Citizen.

Jay-Z.

In 2007, the rapper and businessman won an award for his documentary “Diary of Jay-Z: Water For Life” and the accompanying multimedia advocacy campaign he created with MTV and the UN, according to Global Citizen. Jay-Z said the staggering number of people around the world who lack access to safe, clean water motivated him to take action. Click here to watch the documentary: https://youtu.be/VLCu9JR8Dxs

Sources: 

http://www.wateraid.org/mg/what-we-do

https://water.org/stellaartois/

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/celebrities-water-sanitation-wash-matt-damon-kenda/

https://www.unicef.org/madagascar/5559.html

https://www.humanium.org/en/madagascar/

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/wateraid-clean-malnutrition-stunting-children/