Sanitary, economic and environmental impacts of Solvatten in the West African rural context: case of the rural municipality of Dialakorodji (Mali), 2012.
By Dr. Bécaye Sidy DIOP, Water, Sanitation and Environment Expert. Lecturer in the Institute of Environmental Sciences at University of Dakar, Senegal.
Towards the Millennium Development Goals achievement, Mali is committed to reduce, between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of its population without access to safe drinking water.
Dialakorodji is a municipality located in the close vicinity of Bamako, the capital of Mali with 49% of its 45,740 inhabitants who does not have access to safe drinking water. Beside the high demand (3.8 liters / person / day), due to the intense heat that prevails, to find potable drinking water is a heavy burden for women. They spend up to two hours per day fetching water for their family. Water is mostly drawn from traditional contaminated wells or ponds. In addition, the containers used to take the water from the source to the point of use are barely covered. Residential water treatment is uncommon, so the risks of contamination are very high. This predicament leads to a strong presence of diarrheal diseases particularly for children. Thus, during the three months preceding the study, nearly 27% of children under 5 years have contracted diarrhea.
The living standard of Dialakorodji population leads 98% of them to use firewood and charcoal for cooking and warming water (including drinking water disinfection). The use of firewood as source of energy causes a triple negative consequences in terms of (i) deforestation, (ii) emission of greenhouse gases and (iii) respiratory diseases related to smoke and gases during the combustion.
The Solvatten introduction in 230 households of Dialakorodji helped to overcome the lack of safe drinking water and the abusive use of firewood and charcoal:
- In relation with health, we noticed a reduction of the prevalence of diarrheal disease from27% to 11.6% among children under 5 years old, however no recall period was indicated. Moreover, Solvatten reduces the exposure to smokes and gases from firewood and charcoal, as well as a significant reduction of firewood and charcoal consumption;
- On the economy side, significant savings have been reported by households: 7.8 US$/month on the “energy” budget and 8 US $ per month on health expenses;
- In relation with the impact on environment, there is a reduction of 0.5kg firewood/household/day and 0.9kg charcoal/household/day in their use, which has been of real impact on the environment as well as the global warming by avoiding emission of 2080 kg CO2 eq /Solvatten unit/year.
However, the daily volume of water produced by the only Solvatten unit can be enhanced with the use of bigger tanks. Indeed, the water produced is not enough because of the size of households (average of 10 persons). In addition, the traditional values promote sharing with everyone. Solvatten unit should also be provided to each wife instead of the approach by family because of the polygamy status in most them.