Health and Nutrition
by Clare Sandy, Andranomena, Madagascar
Everyone in my community drinks the pump water unfiltered, including
farming families who have lived here since long before the pump was built
and the people from cities working for the park service who would otherwise
drink bottled water. I do filter it, but mostly for the convenience of the
faucet on the filter, and when people offer me pump water, I drink it.
In Marofandilia, Daniela both filters and boils the water from the
sources there, and most of her community boils their drinking water. It's
hard to say whether there are more problems with worms and parasites, or
whether contamination comes from water, food, hands, or dishes. In any
case, when water is hard to come by, it seems to become less important that
there's a chance it may be contaminated.
by Rob Roberts, St. Augustin, Madagascar
Where I live, I see young kids drink directly from wells, out of dirty
cups and buckets, or straight from the river. The need to boil water to
kill germs isn't recognized. On the other hand, the most popular drink is
water boiled in the same pot that was used to cook rice. First the leftover
rice is slightly burnt on the bottom of the pot, and then water is added
and heated until boiling. You end up with a brownish, tea-colored water
that is clean and actually tastes pretty good. The traditional drink is a
perfect form of water treatment.
by George Ritchotte, Andranomala Nord, Madagascar
The water from the village pumps is fresh and clean; it comes straight
from Zahamena National
by Robin Larson Paulin, Andranofasika, Madagascar
Recently there was an outbreak of cholera in our region of Madagascar.
Many people do not believe in kabones
(outhouses); they think they are fady
(taboo). Once the rains come, contaminated feces wash into surface waters,
which many people use as a source of drinking water. This makes it very
difficult to control the cholera epidemic. Many people die from dehydration
due to cholera.
Recently, as a measure to help control the cholera outbreak, the
restaurants in our village have provided a bucket of water and soap outside
so people can wash their hands before eating.
I add bleach to my drinking water before filtering it to kill the
bacteria. Most Malagasy people drink ranopango
(rice tea), which has been boiled and is served hot. Although this is a
cultural tradition, not a safety measure, it is safer to drink than
by Jina Sagar, Ambalahenko, Madagascar
The drinking water in my community is fresh.
by Mark Danenhauer, Namoly, Madagascar
Whenever I am hiking, camping, or working in the National Park, the
water is fresh and clean because it comes straight from the mountains.
There are no pasture animals, fields, or people upstream to contaminate the
water. Therefore, I drink the water straight from the river, without
The river continues downward, winding its way past dwellings, fields,
and pasture animals until finally arriving at my villages. World Wildlife
Fund, which runs the park, has built a water filtration system and a few
pumps in the village. The villagers in two of the villages fetch water from
the pump in buckets, which they carry home on their heads. The development
of the water system provides these privileged villagers with clean water,
whereas those in other villages still get their water from the river, which
can be polluted.
by Julie Bednarski, Tamboro, Ft. Dauphon, Madagascar
The source of drinking water for half my village is a natural spring
bordering a rice field. It is down a slope that tends to become slippery as
the day goes on. Everyone who walks to the hole causes mud to slide down
and cake up around the drinking source. After heavy rains the runoff makes
the conditions of the spring worse, and we are often forced to go to the
The people believe that water is clean if it is clear and is dirty when
murky. The other side of the village collect their water from a small
stream that borders one side of the village. The stream is also used for
bathing, for washing clothes, and as a trail. But, it is clear, so people
think that it is unpolluted.
The villagers take no precautions about the cleanliness of water. Often,
the only water they drink is the burned rice water they make after the rice
is cooked. Unfiltered water may contain parasites, which cause health
problems, especially in children. I filter and add chlorine to my water.
When people ask me for water I give them the treated water. Sometimes they
refuse to drink it because of the taste and ask for untreated water.