"This is a very serious project which addresses fundamental local challenges at the humanitarian level: it's an honor for me to assist this initiative, led by a nonprofit that I know well. Since it's related to water, it seems natural for Veolia to participate, especially since the operations benefit from the experience of the local correspondent of Sade."
For more than 20 years, a group of Vaucluse volunteers - doctors, engineers, educators - examined the socio-economic problems in Togo, until they got together in the nonprofit Premier Pas in 2002. Based in Thor (Vaucluse), it has set the targets to improve living conditions by promoting education, the hygiene and health conditions by supplying drinking water, and to support economic development in Togo. The nonprofit has accordingly built several schools, restored water pumps, distributed thousands of school manuals, with the active support of the local populations, Togolese adults and children, while educating French school children about the status of children in poor countries.
Thousands of villagers lack drinking water
After a first action in Mangoassi, a village in the Plateaux region, in southern Togo, where Premier Pas has financed the building of a school and the overhaul of a pump, the nonprofit's members were approached by several heads of primary schools to secure support to enable the students and the surrounding population to have drinking water and thereby improve the school attendance of the girls. Five villages of the northern region of Kara lacking any drinking water point, Agbalossi, Nabidjabou, Mabolé, Tabindé and Sombonne, were selected. The 4 287 inhabitants draw their water from ponds and rivers, sometimes located five kilometers from their homes, and above all, where the cattle herds also drink.
The project started in late 2010 with an on-site audit by the members of the nonprofit: assessment of the needs, verification of local technical and financial guarantees, picking volunteers to implement the project, and to maintain the boreholes. This was followed by an awareness raising campaign on the consequences of the use of non-drinking water with the students (total of 30 classes, or more than 1 550 students) and the entire population, with the backing of the teachers and health personnel.
A water management committee was formed in the five villages to manage the startup fund (150 000 francs CFA or €228.65, proceeds from the subscriptions of the communities, a sum that the Togolese State demands before starting any drilling) and to guarantee the maintenance, repairs and durability of the structure. During the construction of the five stations, in which all the school students lend a helping hand, the project includes training in hydraulics for the local managers, as well as hygiene education for the women responsible for the sanitary upkeep of the water points.
Alongside the General Council of Vaucluse, the Regional Council Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and the town hall of Thor, the Veolia Foundation is participating enthusiastically in this operation, whose importance has been validated by the regional director of water, sanitation and hydraulics, which backs the projects without having the means to finance it, owing to the economic difficulties in Togo.