"We couldn't have built these toilets alone," says one father. Here in the Atrone neighbourhood in the east of N’Djamena, and in other districts further north in the Chadian capital, the city council has started financing the installation of latrines for 900 families, covering 90% of the cost. "It was really difficult to save up the 100,000 CFA [about 150 euros, the remaining 10%] needed for the construction, but we don't regret it because of the improvements it has brought."
This inhabitant and his family are among the first 300 households to have benefited from this funding boost. 600 other families and about twenty public sites will be equipped by June 2019. The project is part of the Water and Sanitation in N’Djamena Programme (PEAN) launched by the city, with financial backing from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Union, aiming to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of the city's 7th and 8th arrondissements.
Preventing flooding and disease
Due to its economic appeal and Chad's very high birth rate (5.7 children per woman), in 25 years N’Djamena has seen its population rise from 531,000 (in 1993) to over 1.2 million today, according to the Institut National de la Statistique, des Études Économiques et Démographiques (INSEED). Demographic pressure – and therefore land pressure – has gradually pushed new arrivals and the more disadvantaged populations towards the north-east of the city, where homes were built before these areas were even connected to the drinking water and sanitation networks.
With no stormwater infrastructure, these areas are also regularly flooded during the rainy season. Wastewater and rubbish carried away and mixed together by the flood waters transmit disease, while the material damage affects housing and economic activity.
"The aim of the PEAN project is to give these neighbourhoods access to basic services like drinking water and sanitation, whilst limiting the risks caused by flooding," explains Vianney Mautouchet, urban project manager at the AFD agency in N’Djamena.
Removing an obstacle to girls' education
25.5 million euros have been set aside for this programme: an 18 million-euro grant from the European Union, channelled through AFD in a delegation of finance arrangement, and 7.5 million euros of direct funding provided by AFD.
The project is a three-pronged programme. Firstly, it aims to extend the drinking water supply network by 20 km and build 25 standpipes in these neighbourhoods between April and December 2019. It will also include the construction of two drainage channels and two stormwater retention basins. The works began on 13 November and are expected to last two years.
"This funding will also serve to create two waste collection centres to limit the quantity of rubbish littering the streets, which is liable to be carried away by the rain and clog the drainage channels," adds Vianney Mautouchet. "In addition, AFD has compensated the 250 households who had built their homes on the land that will be used to construct the retention basins, and who will therefore have to move."
Finally, the project will enable the construction of 900 toilets in family homes and about twenty public sites, including 16 schools. "Not only will this help to improve public sanitation in these neighbourhoods, but it will also remove an obstacle to girls' education," says Vianney Mautouchet. "Many of them stop going to school because the school toilets are open-air or are in extremely poor conditions. Closed toilets will help keep girls going to school."