Safe water and sanitation

Restoring health and dignity to children in Togo with safe water and sanitation

Water & SanitationWater & Sanitation
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The Need

Togo is a densely populated country in West Africa with widely varying geography, from dry quiet savanna in the north to wetlands and marshes in the south. Here, more than 65 per cent of land is designated for agricultural use and most of the population live in small, rural communities. Living close to and working with livestock can present sanitation problems that lead to the spread of illness and diseases; in Togo, only 9 per cent of the population has access to safely managed sanitation services.

In Atsavé, a small village in Togo with 800 inhabitants, there is only one water source. In 1982, a borehole was dug to bring water to the village. This borehole had since been the primary source of water in the community. However, in 2014 while trying to drill a second well for the village, the Red Cross Togo conducted a water analysis. It was then discovered that the water in the area was contaminated with high levels of nitrate. Exposure to high levels of nitrate in drinking water is linked to increased risk of esophageal and stomach cancer. Another study conducted in 2019 confirmed that the nitrate levels in the water were still high.
While access to safe drinking water remained a problem in Atsavé, there was also a lack of accessible and clean sanitation facilities. Without working latrines, 80 per cent of the population did not have access to a washroom. Access to clean water and sanitation are one of the most important factors that impact health and child development. A lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities can have devastating impacts, including an increased risk of serious illness and death in children, pregnant women and even otherwise healthy adults. Without access to clean water, children and families cannot safely drink water, properly bathe or simply wash their hands. Compassion’s local church partner in Atsavé wanted to help bring clean, safe water and improved sanitation facilities to the community.

Our Response

Access to clean water, good sanitation and proper hygiene practices are key for child and youth development. Along with our partners at Atsavé Baptist Church, we began work to provide access to safe water with a new borehole for the community, as well as eight latrines and a hand washing station at the local Compassion centre.

This intervention launched in December 2021 with a kickoff meeting, facilitated by the Complimentary Interventions Program Support Specialist and the Partnership Facilitator. After the initial launch meeting, the local project committee worked with an external supervisor to choose a local contractor. In the end, Allez Les Anges BTP was selected because of their technical capabilities and good price. Construction work began in April 2022. The unavailability of skilled labour and craftsmen caused a six-month delay in construction.

The first attempt to drill a new borehole was unsuccessful. However, during the second attempt, a good water table depth was found. Water testing proved the quality to be good and construction was able to continue. The new borehole was equipped, blown and pumped. A 5,000-litre plastic water tank system was constructed to store safe, clean water. Because there was no access to electricity, workers installed solar panels to power a solar pump. This pump made drawing large quantities of water much easier for community members. Five water access points were also set up to serve the surrounding village.

After the borehole was complete, a water sample was taken for testing. We quickly received the good news that the water contained safe levels of nitrate—less than half the threshold levels—and was deemed safe for human consumption! In addition to the borehole and water access system, two toilet blocks separated by gender and consisting of six latrines and two toilets, and a hand washing station were constructed.

Constructing new sanitation facilities and drilling a new borehole was one important step to helping the community—another was education. Through four education sessions, children and caregivers were able to learn about good hygiene and sanitation practices, including how to use the new toilets properly and keep the space clean.

By November 2022, all construction had been completed and all 800 members of the community were able to enjoy safe, clean water. Through access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, as well as understanding good hygiene practices, children and families can help prevent illnesses, stay healthy and live with dignity.


Monitoring: Compassion staff and a technical expert visited the borehole and sanitation block construction sites to monitor progress.

Inauguration ceremony: Local authorities, including the village chief, honoured the work done at the Atsavé Compassion centre and officially opened the borehole and water access points and the toilet and hand washing facilities.

Hygiene education: Compassion-assisted children and youth attended hygiene education sessions at the Compassion centre. Beneficiaries have been putting their learning into practice and now wash their hands before and after meals and after using the toilet.

Water access: Children and families can now fetch clean water from the five access points located throughout the village.

Your Gift Provides...

Your gift provided access to safe water for 800 villagers and sanitation facilities at the Atsavé Compassion centre in Togo:

• Borehole construction:
○ Hydrological and geophysical testing
○ Purchase and installation of a PVC casing, gravel filter and clay bed
○ Drilling
○ Borehole disinfection
○ Water testing
○ Supplies and installation of a water storage tank system
○ Installation of solar pump, regulator and solar panel
○ Water canalization to extend to Compassion centre and other community sites
• Construction of 8 block latrines
• Construction of a concrete stand and hand washing station
• Education on good hygiene and sanitation practices for 227 beneficiaries and their caregivers
• 4 hygiene and sanitation education sessions: trainers, snacks and location rental
• Technical expert and supervisors
• Monitoring and review meetings

Duvo, a Compassion-assisted beneficiary in Atsavé, Togo

ReportA message from those your gift helped

We had a water problem before the intervention. The water we had in the village was not good, but we still had to use it. Sometimes we also had to travel far distances to fetch water.

I am very happy that this intervention was completed. We now have drinking water in our village. I am proud because we will no longer be victims of the diseases that the water was said to contain.

We and our families and our children are freed from long-distance journeys to search for water. Our children will no longer be late to school. With this intervention, we are saved. We have no more worries in developing our activities, especially small businesses.

I thank all the people of good will who took this intervention to heart and mobilized for its financing so that the entire community of Atsavé, including my family, has drinking water and also well-built and protected latrines. Only the Almighty Lord can give it back to you a hundredfold. God bless you for your good works.

Duvo, a Compassion-assisted beneficiary in Atsavé, Togo
Reporting person's photo

ReportThank you for your generosity

With your help, more than 800 community members in Atsavé, including 277 Compassion-assisted children and youth, now have access to clean, safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities.

Before the intervention, no one in the community had access to safe water. Now, 85 per cent of community members have access to clean water directly from their homes, and 100 per cent of the community has access to clean water through the Compassion centre site.

Because of your generosity, children, Compassion staff church staff and church members now have modern, safe toilets to use. The two toilet blocks are now separated by gender, restoring privacy and dignity to the children. Now, they don’t have wait in long lineups or resort to relieving themselves in the bushes. Centre staff report that children are practising good hygiene habits by washing their hands at the hand washing station, preventing the spread of waterborne illnesses so they can remain healthy and not have to miss school or program days at the centre. In fact, 23 peer educators were trained on conducting an awareness campaign on water, hygiene and sanitation that reached the more than 800 people in the community. One caregiver expressed his joy: “Finally! We no longer go to the toilet in the bush. We have all we need such as drinkable water and toilets. May the Lord bless our donors in Jesus’ name for all they have done for us.”

To guarantee the sustainability of this intervention, the community formed a water committee consisting of five people who were trained in maintenance to ensure good management of the borehole. Water will be sold to community members at a reasonable price to cover maintenance costs. With easy access to water, the local church partner plans to develop a vegetable and fish farm.

Your gift has provided an entire community with safe water free from contaminants, as well as better sanitation facilities and improved education surrounding hygiene and sanitary practices. This education will ensure that generations to come will have a better understanding of good hygiene and can continue to pass on healthy practices to others in their community. This intervention has made an incredible difference in the lives of the entire community—thank you!

Vou, Centre director, Atsavé, Togo

ReportA message from a centre director

The lives of the affected beneficiaries have changed in the sense that they no longer have to make great efforts to have clean water. The distance between water points and houses is sufficient to cover water needs. The water is drinkable for use, which avoids water-related diseases. All the beneficiaries are happy to have this water. The church also benefits from clean water during services for drinking and other activities require the use of water.

Now that this intervention is complete, the participants eat their meals on time at the centre. The hours for the curriculum activities are also respected because cooks no longer have to travel long distances in search of water.

The beneficiaries are happy that they and the community no longer need to worry about drinking water. Some of these beneficiaries, among whom there were regular delays and especially absences, are now the first to be present at the centre.

Vou, Centre director, Atsavé, Togo