Monday 10 March 2014

Final push to build 360 loos on stilts

aaLake Nokoue Emmaus International Presentation Woman with bowlweb

Emmaus communities and groups across the UK will hold events on 22 March 2014 as part of World Water Day, in an effort to raise money to build 360 latrines for people living on Lake Nokoué in Benin, West Africa.  

Emmaus Cambridge is planning a half-price sale, Emmaus Village Carlton companions and staff are running a water-relay race, and folk from Emmaus Brighton & Hove are walking 19.7 miles to raise awareness of the plight of those with no access to clean water.

Before the Emmaus International project began in 2007, only 10 per cent of inhabitants on the lake had access to safe drinking water and two per cent could access sanitation facilities. The lack of safe drinking water not only had a terrible effect on health, but interrupted children’s schooling and working life for many adults. A quarter of households settled for using dirty lake water for drinking and washing, or travelled great distances to fetch water supplies.

Emmaus Cambridge former companion and deputy community leader-in-training, Mark Boden, visited Lake Nokoué in 2013. He said: “Visiting Africa was an incredible journey for me, as we saw first-hand the work that was taking place to transform people’s lives for the better.

“However, what had a real impact on me, was knowing that the Emmaus project would be managed by the people themselves. Instead of us just coming in and giving money or goods, we were teaching them how to use the system, how to mend it and above all, why it was important for them to use things that we might consider common knowledge, like loos or sinks. It was all new stuff, but they were totally on board.” 

Lake Nokoué 

In 2013, Emmaus communities and groups across the UK raised €23,195.67 which was used towards the creation of six water towers, 76 water supply points and over 20km of pipes. This means that 65,000 people around the lake now have access to clean drinking water.

However,  in order to complete the project, a further €1m is needed for the construction of latrines, a waste treatment plant, and an educational programme of hygiene awareness-raising and training for latrine and pump attendants.

International Co-ordination Manager, Stéphane Melchiorri, from Emmaus International said: “By 2015, we hope to have demonstrated that poverty is not inevitable: 70,000 people who were living in extreme conditions will have gained access to water and sanitation infrastructure. Thanks to the efforts of Emmaus groups around the world the people of Lake Nokoué  will continue to manage this infrastructure collectively and sustainably. We just need to raise enough funds to see the project through to the end.”

To support Emmaus’s fundraising efforts, pop along to the Emmaus Cambridge sale on Saturday 22 March, donate directly to Emmaus International, or check out the your local Emmaus page to find events being held near you.

For more information on World Water Day, visit the Water Aid webpage.