Improved public health through increased equitable access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene for all households

Good water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is inextricably linked to health. Up to 80% of disease in developing countries is linked to poor water and sanitation. Worldwide, nearly a fifth of deaths of all children under five are the result of water-related illnesses.

Here in Eswatini, half a million people—nearly half the population—do not have adequate sanitation, and 330,000 don’t have access to safe water. Most households have to wash in and collect water from rivers, dams and ponds, which carry pollutants from upstream and are further polluted by livestock sharing the same water sources.

Water collection is literally a heavy burden for rural Swazi women—they are the main collectors, and their average water container weighs about 20 kg when full. They often have to walk long distances to fetch water. More than 23,000 women in Eswatini spend more than 30 minutes collecting each load of water, meaning less time for other duties and economic activities—and less time with their families.

Children are also heavily affected by WASH deficiencies. Apart from their water-collecting duties, diarrhoea contributes to the deaths of 200 Swazi children each year, and nearly 6% of children under five years old are underweight.

boMake Rural Projects works for equitable access for all rural households to safe water, sanitation and hygiene by

  • Installing and maintaining boreholes and pumps
  • Building ventilated, improved pit latrines (VIP latrines)
  • Providing training on good hygiene practices

Boreholes and pumps

boMake Rural Projects has drilled and installed 22 boreholes with hand pumps in the chiefdoms of eGebeni, KaNdinda, Lavumisa, Mpini, Mpuluzi, Ndlinilembi and Ngwavuma, thereby improving access to potable water for more than 3,000 people.

VIP latrines

We have also installed 913 ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines in the same communities, giving more than 9,000 people access to safe sanitation.

Simple pit latrines are notoriously smelly and a breeding ground for disease-carrying flies and mosquitos. A VIP latrine has a long ventilation pipe, thereby reducing odours, and a screen at the pipe outlet to block insects.

Other WASH initiatives

  • We train communities in hygiene and sanitation using a learning approach (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation or PHAST) that empowers communities to reduce diarrhoeal disease, improve hygiene behaviours and effectively manage their water and sanitation services. Community members are involved in planning and carrying out projects.
  • The water systems require good operation and maintenance. We have therefore built the capacity of community members to manage and maintain their boreholes and pumps—this has the welcome side-effect of developing leadership abilities and empowering women in the community.
  • We provide every multipurpose community hall we build with a 5,000-litre water tank. It is filled during construction and a rainwater harvesting system keeps it topped up.
  • Students in our Youth Empowerment Clubs learn about hygiene and sanitation measures like tippy taps for washing hands. Handwashing is the single most effective defence against disease.
  • Even with pumps nearby, someone still has to collect and carry the water home. Our communities in Mpini have been using Hippo Rollers, large containers with detachable handles that make it possible to roll them along the ground.