<p>January 2017&mdash;Kindo A&iuml;ssata, 42, has lived in Belleville, a small district in C&ocirc;te d&rsquo;Ivoire&rsquo;s town of Anyama, for 15 years. Just like the rest of the district&rsquo;s population of 13,000, she has faced water shortages the entire time she has lived there.</p>

<p>A&iuml;ssata and her children used to walk up to 30 kilometers every other day to get drinking water at the fountain located outside the perimeter of the city. As a result of having to collect water to drink and shower before going to school, all the children in the neighborhood were constantly tired and sick, and their academic performance suffered.</p>

<p>During the post-electoral crisis of 2011, things got worse when A&iuml;ssata and her children could no longer go to the fountain because of security issues. Ultimately, people in Belleville had no other option but to get&nbsp;water from the marsh. The distance to the marsh was shorter than the fountain, but the water was unclean and health problems soon appeared.</p>

<p>&ldquo;My children and I had black spots and pimples that appeared on our bodies,&rdquo; says A&iuml;ssata. &ldquo;We suffered from indigestion regularly. I remember that two campaigns against bilharziasis [also known as schistosomiasis] were organized in my neighborhood and its peripheries. At that time, practically every other child suffered from this illness because we all supply ourselves from the same source. So rainwater was a blessing for us.&rdquo;</p>

<p>That all changed in January 2016&nbsp;after A&iuml;ssata, who is a member of an Anyama community group, took part in a USAID-supported workshop about how to improve the delivery of government services. During the session, participants learned about the role of advocacy and the responsibilities of locally elected officials to advocate for&nbsp;their communities. A&iuml;ssata shared what she had learned with members of her&nbsp;NGO, Vision Emergence, a women&#39;s economic empowerment group.​​​​​</p>

<p>In February, along with women from&nbsp;the community and members of the NGO,<strong> </strong>A&iuml;ssata met the local manager of the water distribution company. To&nbsp;make her&nbsp;case, she brought a sample of the water she had been drinking from the marsh. One by one, each&nbsp;woman testified about how the water had affected members of their families. Faced with the heartfelt presentation, the local distribution company manager committed to supplying the district with clean&nbsp;drinking water.</p>

<p>The following week, the National Office of Drinking Water,&nbsp;a government-run water distribution company<b>, </b>&nbsp;began to supply the entire Belleville district with clean drinking water&nbsp;through daily water truck deliveries&nbsp;that filled&nbsp;up community members&rsquo; water tanks. Ever since, there have been no cases of bilharziasis.</p>

<p>For A&iuml;ssata, one-third of the household budget that was previously used to cope with health problems due to poor water quality is now being used for household savings. For the &nbsp;Belleville community, the situation has greatly improved. While Belleville has found a solution, there is still a lack of clean drinking water in other rural districts outside of Anyama not serviced by the water distribution company.</p>

<p>The USAID Legislative Strengthening Program in C&ocirc;te d&rsquo;Ivoire began&nbsp;in December 2012 and will run through December 2017. The program has set up collaborative community groups, such as the one A&iuml;ssata belongs to, in 34 communities made up of local civil society actors, elected officials, and traditional chiefs to respond to community needs.&nbsp;The program provides technical support to enhance legislative skills, knowledge and ability within the National Assembly.</p>


<div class="wysiwyg-style-related-link"><a href=""><strong>USAID&rsquo;s mission in C&ocirc;te d&#39;Ivoire</strong></a></div>

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,“Practically every other child suffered from this illness because we all supply ourselves from the same source.”

Three kids in front of the dirty river try to collect water
L’eau du marigot à Anyama a provoqué des épidémies de bilharzioses au sein des élèves
Photo by SUNY for USAID