Niger : WASH assessment highlights complex access to water and latrines in the Diffa region.

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DSCN0301The Diffa region in Niger has been affected by severe water shortages and continued displacement over the past months, with almost 83,000 refugees, 31,500 returnees and 127,000 IDPs in need of humanitarian assistance according to May 2016 figures from the Direction Région
ale de l’Etat Civil et des Réfugiés. Confronted by this crisis, humanitarian actors driven by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) group in Diffa and the WASH Cluster in Niamey implemented an emergency intervention to respond to the acute needs faced by the vulnerable population.

Within this framework, REACH in partnership with the Global WASH Cluster conducted an assessment in June 2016 to support the country level WASH partners to fill information gaps regarding WASH conditions in the areas most affected by displacement. The assessment aimed at evaluating the functioning and management of water infrastructure, and assessing the conditions of common latrines built as an emergency response to forced displacement.  The findings and recommendations of the WASH assessment can be found on this link (in French).

The assessment shed light on a complex situation with regards to the Diffa region’s water network. It showed that, while a majority of water access points were functional (70%) at the time of the evaluation, they were often breaking down for long periods of time. Management committees (CG) have a hard time taking care of these breakdowns. In 17% of cases, water points’ users are displaying negative coping strategies such as consuming water from sources of lesser quality.

The assessment also depicted specific aspects relating to common latrines, structures that, while also largely functional (86%) suffer from lack of communities’ resources. In reaction to this, we observe the positive implication of management committees in leading educational campaigns of basic hygiene practices among vulnerable populations in two thirds of the cases.

The WASH assessment allowed notably to pinpoint the positive impact of the CG in managing and maintaining water structures and latrines, to confirm that most water access points assessed were still functional in June 2016, but also highlighted persistent issues and the fact that part of the vulnerable population is engaged in risky water us coping strategies. The need for sustained interventions with reconstruction programmes, rather than solely emergency responses, is still recommended as far as humanitarian actors in the region are concerned.