WASH Study: The Success of CmiA’s Community Cooperation Programme


Using Côte d’Ivoire as an example, a broad study published in January 2023 confirmed the effectiveness of WASH projects funded through the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme.

Cotton made in Africa is more than a quality label. Since 2009, CmiA has been funding projects promoting education, health, women’s empowerment, and environmental improvements in the regions where CmiA cotton is grown. These projects aim to strengthen the village communities that are home to the small-scale farmers producing the majority of Africa’s cotton and to improve their living conditions. 

Since 2015, a variety of WASH projects (water, sanitation, and hygiene) have been conducted in northern Côte d’Ivoire, under the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme, in collaboration with three local cotton companies. The funds were used to finance projects that had previously been proposed to CmiA by cotton companies, with the consent of village communities.

To verify whether the projects have long-term potential and meet the needs of village residents, CmiA decided to commission Centre Ivoirien de Recherches Économique et Sociales (CIRES) and Africa Council Capacity Building and Monitoring (ACBM) to carefully examine the projects’ effectiveness.

The final report is highly encouraging. It found that the projects were implemented successfully and predicted that the various village committees’ service and maintenance efforts would ensure that the new infrastructure will last a long time. Residents are also better informed about hygiene issues thanks to training provided through the projects.

“CmiA’s WASH projects have an undeniably positive effect on living conditions in cotton-producing communities,” stated the authors of the study. Resident feedback is equally positive. “Now that there is drinking water in our village, our children are not complaining of stomach aches and diarrhoea any more,” a statement says, and a village head concludes, “I am 150 percent satisfied.”

Since 2009, CmiA has been supporting villages in cotton-growing regions with projects addressing education, health, women’s empowerment, and the environment.

In the autumn of 2022, interviews and discussions were conducted with around 500 residents from the supported villages (along with another 500 participants in a control group) as part of an evaluation. In January 2023, the research team presented its final report.

The activities of the projects assessed by CIRES and ACBM in Côte d’Ivoire included the drilling of wells, the installation of pumps, the construction of sanitation facilities, the provision of water supplies for schools, support for health consultants in villages, and the delivery of training to inform village residents about the relationships between health, hygiene, and the water supply.

The study determined that the projects were highly appropriate.

The CmiA Community Cooperation Programme’s grassroots focus contributed to ensuring the projects were relevant. Such projects are developed by CmiA partners—local cotton companies—on the basis of a needs analysis and in close consultation with village communities. An advisory board staffed by experts decides which projects to fund; 70 percent of the funding comes from CmiA and Demand Alliance members, and 30 percent comes from the cotton companies. 

In the cultivation regions in northern Côte d’Ivoire, 35 wells were drilled and 38 toilet facilities built. As the study notes, feedback from the villages has been unanimously positive. People in the villages note that, without the projects, it would not have been possible either to meet the need for drinking water or to keep at bay the waterborne diseases that had previously severely afflicted the lives of people in the villages, especially children.

Once complete, the new wells reduced the distance to the nearest water source by an average of 45 percent. In all five regions in which the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme has supported village communities, at least 80 percent of the people surveyed noticed a positive change in residents’ health.

The projects particularly benefited the most vulnerable groups in the villages: women and children. The study found that the projects fulfilled the requirement of promoting gender equality specifically and human rights in general.

A woman from one of the villages reports: “Thanks to the well, women can finally know what it feels like to get some rest. Before, they had to go off to draw water early in the morning, as soon as they woke up, and then again in the evening, after spending the whole day working in the fields. That this is no longer necessary is a big relief to the women in the village.”

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