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Crisis Talk on World Toilet Day in Mali
The goal of the Crisis Talk is to bring together civil society and politicians in an open dialogue on WASH issues. The overall objective is to draw the attention to water and sanitation issues in Mali. Several stakeholders and interest groups, especially governmental representatives (mayors, and representatives from the water and sanitation institutions), community organizations (representatives of the community, town hall), and representatives of people working in the sanitation sector attended the event. To launch the event, WASH-United’s country coordinator, Dounantié Dao, gave a presentation on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, which would frame the following discussions with a human rights perspective.
Afterwards, witnesses and grassroots organizations talked about their situations concerning water and sanitation. A civil servant working at the town hall in Mali’s region Ansongo explained that despite the community and NGO efforts to build water infrastructure, 1/3 of the population in this region does not profit from these investments. 12.000 of Ansongo’s 40.000 inhabitants live in the village of Bazigourma, which suffers from a lack of access to water, as there are only 2 water points to serve the entire village. He also addressed other problems with water quality and prioritization of needs to access water.
The governmental representatives answered, that they are working on these problems, but due to the lack of financing, the problems cannot all be remedied at the same time. This investigation takes time, and Bazigourma indeed has not been the main focal area, since they gave priority to other regions with greater needs. The government thinks that the communities should also to improve their communication of which areas should receive the highest priority, and that civil society seems unwilling to invest in water and sanitation.
The discussion continued on issues of waste collection, and NGOs working together with civil society to improve these issues by raising awareness and getting people to demand change. It was also acknowledged that things are indeed slowly changing. However, problems of corruption and profit-driven dirt collectors are further obstacles to getting proper waste management and treatment in the areas, a critical element of a proper sanitation system.
In the end, the main issues that were discussed that day were collected again in, including the low water quality in Ansango (high iron levels), the low capacity of drilling (water well) centers in Ansango, the insufficient number of water points in villages like Bazigourma, the lack of deposits for waste and the lack of access to drinking water in areas not covered by a network (EDM & CLLL). In order to improve these issues, a list of recommendations for the government was worked out to address these problems.
After the official part of the Crisis Talk, WASH United visited a local school, in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Bamako. A lively event was organized where people were informed of the outcomes of the Crisis Talk earlier that day. Teachers and parents at the school are very actively involved in WASH issues, and push forward efforts to encourage good behavior among the students. WASH United is working with a solid group of teachers, parents and students who are committed to spreading the message of the importance of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices in order to make sustainable health improvements in their community.