Medair aims at improving the economy in north-eastern Madagascar

Medair, a Swiss emergency and recovery NGO, has been working to provide clean water, sanitation and improved hygiene among the most vulnerable communities in Madagascar, through its Rano Tsara 2 (good water) project.

Launched in 2013 in the Analanjirofo region of north-eastern Madagascar, Rano Tsara 2 includes a capacity-building component: to train 4 local businesses on improved EcoSan latrines (urine-diverting double-pitted dry latrines) so that they can build and sell 800 latrines, and to train 33 masons who will build and sell 500 SanPlat slabs.

Why are they called “improved latrines”? Following the Rano Tsara 1 project (2006-2011), Medair hired an international consultant to evaluate and rework the latrine format and technology, which resulted in a model that now has a shower cabinet adjacent to the latrine (which is why communities call it a kabone ladosy) and built in an additional vent to accelerate the faecal matter drying process. An original novelty.

There are two latrine models, one with round pits (called boribory) that beneficiaries can acquire at a subsidised price of 190 000 Ariary only (about 70 USD), which is 22% of the actual cost of the latrine as Medair supports the 78% remaining. The other model, with square pits (karekare) can be bought for 270 000 Ariary (about 100 USD), Medair supporting 74% of the total cost. Why such a difference in price? The karekare latrine pits can be emptied from outside rather than inside, facilitating the cleaning process.

In the urban community of Maroantsetra, Medair chose to train 4 local companies on Medair latrine technology. Once the training is over, the companies will compete for the building contracts. Medair is planning on having the companies build and install 10 latrines every 45 working days.

In a region where the economy is failing, the 4 companies need to do everything in their power to get Medair to sign contracts with them. When Medair eventually decides to leave the area, the sale of latrines should continue, which means sustainable work and profits for the selected businesses. Félicien Belalahy, owner of the Miray company, told us: “If I don’t manage to sign a contract with Medair, I am going to have to find other projects or go back to growing rice in order to feed my family.”

Mr Belalahy is a strong believer in Medair’s project. Not only is it going to “allow the community to be in better health by reducing illnesses linked to poor hygiene, which is one of the main problems in this region, but it is also going to boost local economy as it will be creating supply and demand, as well as creating jobs.” Moreover, once the latrines start to sell, Medair is planning on establishing a local network of latrine technicians whose job it will be to carry out the annual maintenance and emptying of latrines, a job that most households aren’t always keen on performing and that requires certain technical skills.

The EcoSan latrine aspect of the Rano Tsara 2 project is funded by the European union, the Swiss Confederation, Swiss Solidarity and l’Agence de l’eau Rhône Méditerranée Corse. Medair is actively looking for other donors that will allow them to make sure enough EcoSan latrines are built to respond to the area’s urgent sanitation needs.

For more information on Medair and its work in Madagascar or elsewhere in the world:

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