Within the framework of the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme and with support of the German fashion retailer bonprix, the cotton company COIC (Compagnie Ivoirienne de Coton) started a community project on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) back in March 2018. In a very short time, COIC was able to reach nine schools and villages and more than 2,500 people in total. The project initially had the goal to construct 21 latrines and five water pumps (boreholes), yet much more has already been achieved, even before the project has ended, including a local competition for “the cleanest village”.
The project’s first step was raising awareness amongst the population about the topic of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and ensuring ownership and long-term sustainable impact by involving the entire community in the activities as much as possible. The WASH trainings were the basis for a movement towards self-determined change. Training sessions were conducted in the local language and covered two topics: waterborne diseases, and hygiene and sanitation of people’s living environment. In total, more than 2,590 people across all age groups participated in these training courses.
The project’s second step was informing the communities about the construction of boreholes and latrines and establishing a committee that will be responsible for the facilities’ maintenance as well as water management in future.
The third step was repairing existing and constructing new boreholes and sanitary facilities. During the first months of the project, the borehole locations were determined and the first holes were drilled. All five wells have been built and so far, 12 latrines have been completed in four villages (three latrines per village). Until the end of December, nine more latrines will be built in three villages.
This project’s impact goes beyond the delivery of boreholes and latrines, as the communities involved have decided to close the year with a competition amongst themselves: They have defined a set of criteria against which they will assess “the cleanest village”. The communities have recognized that a clean village protects and respects the environment, which in turn facilitates clean water supply and healthy communities.
COIC has successfully implemented this project and especially achieved to involve the local communities from the very beginning, ensuring that their ownership yields long-term direct and indirect impact. The project has managed to reduce the spreading of preventable waterborne diseases by improving the basic supply of drinking water and providing sanitary facilities. In addition to this, it has also initiated visible changes in people’s behavior and everyday lives.