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Project Fatsaka

Project Fatsaka was a community capacity building well management and maintenance programme that empowered rural communities to self-sufficiently maintain wells and retain long-term access to safe drinking water.


  • Status: Completed
  • Duration: 18 Months
  • Project Start Date: 1st May 2017
  • Target population: Mahatalaky Rural Commune, Anosy region, southeast Madagascar
  • Project Partners: Local Commune; Ministries of Health, Water & Education; Madagascar’s Population, Health & Environment (PHE) Network
A young girl collecting water a long way from her home

Why is it important?

How many times have you turned on the tap, washed your hands or had a glass of water today? You probably haven’t considered the quantity or quality of water consumed. For people living in rural Madagascar, even for those lucky enough to have a well in their community, access to safe water is far more challenging.

With limited availability of improved water sources, over 65% of Madagascar’s rural population is forced to consume unsafe, often contaminated, water from ponds, rivers and wells (WaterAid, 2015). The effects of unsafe water consumption comprise multi-dimensional barriers to the country’s development. Each year over 4000 children under-five die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices (WaterAid, 2017). Moreover, an estimated 3.5 million school days and 5 million work days are lost each year as a result of water and sanitation related diseases (UNICEF, 2015). By impeding education and impairing productive livelihood activities, the lack of access to safe drinking water and poor drinking water practices further entrap rural communities, such as those in the Mahatalaky Rural Commune, into vicious cycles of poverty.

While the construction of wells is a necessary first step towards helping communities gain access to safe water sources, infrastructure provision alone is not sufficient for sustainable, long-term access to safe water. The focus of previous water provision projects in the area has been on building well infrastructure, without planning for long-term operation and maintenance or considering skills sharing with the beneficiaries. Even the most robust infrastructure will not last forever and will require continuous maintenance and at some point repairs.

With little to no support from the local government, it is crucial that communities have the motivation and technical skills to ensure that wells function effectively without needing external support or funding in the future.

Nearly half of Madagascar’s rural water systems broke down in 2013, one third of which were not fixed properly

UNICEF, 2014

What we're doing

During the pilot phase of Fatsaka, SEED encouraged 15 communities across the Mahatalky Rural Commune to take ownership of their wells. Through the innovative application of the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) method, communities were motivated to use their protected water sources and recognise the health implications of poor drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Communities were subsequently supported in establishing well committees and creating action plans to repair and manage their wells. With activities resulting in 13 highly motivated communities, SEED built the local capacity to carry out essential well repairs and supported communities to establish sustainable management and maintenance systems. Through technical and financial management training, tailored to individual community needs, SEED helped 13 communities gain the skills to manage and maintain their protected water sources without the continued need for external technical support or funding in the future.

Having successfully trialed this innovative method in a first phase, SEED has expanded Project Fatsaka to bring long-term access to improved water sources to a further 15 communities, helping an estimated 10,072 impoverished people achieve their human right to safe water.

By collaborating with local authorities, community leaders, schools and national WASH networks we intend to improve knowledge, skills and structures to ensure communities have sustainable access to safe drinking water.

An Azafady staff member shows local people how to repair a well


SEED would like to thank POD, Christadelphian Meal a Day, Clark Mitchel Trust, Beatrice Laing Trust, the Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, Global Giving, the Merstham Aid Project and the Herrod Foundation for their support to Project Fatsaka.

Phase 1: Pilot

Duration: 12 months

Target reach: 15 rural communities

Main activities: Baseline/endline surveys of well usage, community needs and priorities; community triggering sessions; well committee establishment and action planning; technical training sessions


  • 13 communities established well committees and gathered financial contributions to carry out essential repairs
  • Community dinas (rules) in place at all wells
  • End-line water testing across a sample of repaired wells indicated excellent water quality and a lower level of contamination vs. traditional well and river water sources

Phase 2

Duration: 18 months

Target reach: 28 rural communities, Over 10,000 new beneficiaries

Main activities: Baseline mapping of wells; continued support and monitoring of the original 13 communities; identification of 15 additional communities; community triggering sessions; development of action plans; well assessment and repairs; establishment of well committees; technical training sessions; WASH lessons in schools; distribution of information, communication and education (IEC) materials; cross-community learning visits.