A large number of the issues regarding sanitation and water quality in Cote d’Ivoire can be attributed to the domestic conflict that ended in 2007. The conflict damaged crucial water supply infrastructure, especially in the north, and post-conflict reconstruction has overshadowed the maintenance and repair of these systems. Over eight million people in Cote d’Ivoire lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, which increases the risk of water-related diseases. Over four million people lack access to safe drinking water. These numbers increase in rural areas, where 46 percent of the rural population lacks access to clean water and 87 percent lacks access to sufficient sanitation.

Here are five facts about water quality in Cote d’Ivoire:

  1. The crisis of water quality in Cote d’Ivoire is characterized by two key problems. First, many communities, especially rural ones, face difficulties not only accessing safe drinking water, but also accessing enough of it. Second, there are many difficulties in accessing sewage infrastructure and proper bathrooms, especially in urban areas. The issue is multi-faceted, and impacts both urban and rural communities in different ways.
  2. The above issues increase the risk of transmission of water-borne diseases, such as cholera. Guinea worm was also common, though it was eradicated in 2007. Unsafe drinking water increases child mortality rates. Currently, many children die from diarrhea and similar diseases.
  3. Urbanization is one of the main causes of the current water crisis. After the civil war, the capital city of Yamoussoukro experienced a massive influx of internally displaced people. The city doesn’t have enough wells or adequate sewage and sanitation facilities to support this increase in the population, exacerbating existing issues in the city.
  4. The water crisis also has an impact on education. According to USAID, “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.” This particularly disadvantages girls, who mainly carry the burden of fetching water for their families. Even when they are able to attend school, they often don’t have access to separate sanitation facilities.
  5. Many organizations are addressing the crisis of low water quality in Cote d’Ivoire. Charity Water has funded 190 separate projects in the country and has invested $1,146,687 dollars as of November 2017. UNICEF Water and Sanitation takes a multi-pronged approach, supplying clean drinking water straight to communities, schools and hospitals, promoting sanitation and hygiene and surveying the epidemiological impacts of the low water quality to prevent water-related diseases. The Urban Water Supply Project aims to improve water quality and access to water (especially in overcrowded urban areas) and to strengthen the financial management and financial planning capacity of the National Water Agency in its urban water supply sector.

With continued support from organizations like these, water quality in Cote d’Ivoire is sure to improve in the coming years, thus improving the quality of life for the nation’s citizens.

– Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

water quality in Côte d’IvoireCôte d’Ivoire used to be an exception in West Africa, a model for other countries of economic success. Since civil war erupted in the country more than a decade ago, that model has deteriorated and largely rendered a mere dream. Now, the country is in dire straits, especially in regards to the quality and conditions of its water supply. Water quality in Côte d’Ivoire is an issue for a staggering 31 percent of rural areas.

Furthermore, the quality of water that is available leaves much to be desired. The civil war has tremendously damaged the water supply infrastructures, and this coupled with the fact that water is exposed to unsanitary conditions often results in water-borne disease. This is not confined to rural areas either; it affects urban areas as well.

Slightly less than half of Côte d’Ivoire’s population (about eight million people) do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. In rural areas in particular, roughly four million people drink water not safe for consumption. As a result, many die from diseases related to unsafe and unclean drinking water, including children.

This crisis has a domino effect on other aspects of Ivorian society. The lack of access to proper and clean water sources means that a lot of energy and resources must be devoted to obtaining it. This results in many Ivorian girls being forced to forego their education in order to seek and provide water for their families.

This is true even in the capital, Abidjan, where a large influx of people into the capital has strained its inadequate urban infrastructure. The large swathes of people that have moved to Abidjan did so largely because of the civil war and the threat of violence.

In other cities, such as the northern town Dabakala, the wells that previously contained water have completely dried up. This has resulted in residents seeking unsafe and unclean water sources. When water is obtained from such sources, such as creeks, life-threatening diseases such as guinea worm and cholera easily affect those in need of water.

However, there have been campaigns to combat this problem. Efforts made by the Global Nature Fund, for example, have met the needs of Ivorians by repairing water pumps. Within a couple of years, the residents of 44 villages, or around 24,000 Ivorians, were able to access fresh groundwater.

The water quality in Côte d’Ivoire and a lack of it is causing severe crises. These calamities were a result of the outbreak of civil war that has successfully dashed the stability, safety and prosperity of the nation. While some improvement efforts have been made, this crisis will only continue unless serious changes are enacted on an international scale that provide a long-term solution to the water needs of Côte d’Ivoire.

Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Cote d'IvoireThe avid traveler might be well versed in vaccinations and medications to avoid illness whilst abroad or soon afterward, but few are aware of the struggles that locals face with such diseases. Two of common diseases in Cote d’Ivoire of note are malaria and more recently, dengue fever.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms that could lead to death in severe cases. Dengue is on the rise worldwide, with about half the world’s population at risk, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is also one of the most common diseases in Cote d’Ivoire today.

In Cote d’Ivoire, dengue had reached epidemic proportions in the area of Abidjan as of April 2017. In tAugust 2017, Cote d’Ivoire launched an anti-vector campaign to quell the dangers of the increasingly alarming epidemic which has claimed two lives out of the 911 cases reported. Of these reported cases, 311 have been confirmed.

Even though dengue fever has reached epidemic levels, malaria is still the leading cause of hospitalization in Cote d’Ivoire. In the country, about 3.5 million children under five and one million pregnant women are exposed to malaria each year.

One of the most effective methods of combatting these diseases is mosquito netting. As UNICEF Representative of Côte d’Ivoire Adele Khudr stated in an article by UNICEF, “Mosquito net distribution is one of the most effective ways to reduce child mortality. [I]t is also important to inform people how to use nets properly in order to save lives.”

Due to lack of netting in Cote d’Ivoire, a nationwide campaign was launched in December 2015 to distribute 13 million mosquito nets to those in need in Cote d’Ivoire. It aimed to have one mosquito net for every two people in the country. This was made possible by a $55 million grant from the Global Fund.

With the introduction of this netting, 50 percent of the non-complicated malaria cases can be reduced, there can be a 45 percent reduction in severe cases of malaria and a reduction of anemia in children as well.

In addition to assisting in the above benefits, mosquito nets could also protect against the dengue fever epidemic in Abidjan. With the help of initiatives from the U.N., the Global Fund and others, the mosquito-borne common diseases in Cote d’Ivoire can be reduced and prevented.

Sydney Roeder

Photo: Flickr

Quality in Cote D'Ivoire

According to UNICEF, more than four million people still do not have access to safe drinking water in Cote D’Ivoire. This lack of adequate water quality in Cote D’Ivoire results in the deaths of children every single day from disease, and more are suffering through illness.

The water crisis is controlling everything. Children are being denied the right to education, in lieu of spending their days water-fetching. Almost 86 percent of women in Cote D’Ivoire are responsible for supplying water to their families, and those farmers that are able to work are not managing to perform at very productive levels due to the commonplace of diseases and illnesses.

Moving Forward with Solutions

In 2007, 1,170 village water pumps were either fully constructed or rehabilitated, which directly affected 700,000 people’s lives. In additon, 734 latrines (outhouses) were built in 150 villages, which is vital for sanitation improvements.

UNICEF has laid out three main focus areas to further aid for water quality in Cote D’Ivoire:

  • The supply of water in community, school and health centers and peri-urban environments.
  • The promotion of hygiene and sanitation.
  • The epidemiological surveillance to prevent water-related diseases.

More than 20 percent of the population of Cote D’Ivoire does not have access to clean drinking water. Partners throughout the world are coming together to assist countries like Cote D’Ivoire, which has made an undeniable and significant impact for the better. However, more must be done for the water quality in Cote D’Ivoire to ensure that millions of people are not suffering from preventable disease and premature death just because of the drinking water quality.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Youth pregnancies in Côte d’Ivoire declined by an astounding 20 percent since the Zero Pregnancies in School Campaign began in 2013, according to the United Nations Population Fund. This campaign is part of a nationwide plan, supported with technical and financial assistance from UNFPA, to enable young people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, 5,076 students became pregnant in primary or secondary school, reported the Ivorian Ministry of National and Technical Education. While the teen-age birth rate globally is 50 per 1,000 girls, in Côte d’Ivoire, the number is 125.

The 2013 UNFPA State of World Population report found that 7.3 million girls, 18-years-old and younger, give birth each year in developing countries. This reality is both a health issue as well as a development issue. Many pregnant girls are forced to drop out of school creating downward-spiraling repercussions of limited prospects.

“It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child and forced marriage, power imbalances between adolescent girls and their male partners, lack of education, and the failure of systems and institutions to protect their rights,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director.

The high birth rates in Côte d’Ivoire undermine the country’s ability to take advantage of a demographic dividend. A demographic dividend is a window of opportunity to hasten economic growth when a population’s age structure shifts from one with fewer people of working age (15 to 65) to one with fewer dependent people (under 14 and over 65).

In response to this situation, the Ivorian Council of Ministers formally adopted the accelerated pregnancies reduction plan on April 2, 2014. The plan is a comprehensive program that integrates sexuality education in Côte d’Ivoire, teaching over several years starting in 4th grade to provide age-appropriate information at each stage.

Based on human rights principles, sexuality education encompasses more than sex education. The fundamental components of the curriculum feature the information about the human body, contraception and sexual and reproductive health. This includes knowledge about sexually-transmitted diseases and the effects of early pregnancy. The curriculum also addresses the issues of child marriage and gender-based violence so that human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of young people is advanced.

The comprehensive program offers other school activities beyond the classroom. Nationally, student clubs are being formed to raise awareness, and an arts and culture festival is planned where students can display their creative endeavors, such as plays, poems, stories and drawings about pregnancy in school. UNFPA has helped the government open a call center that provides free, confidential information. To disseminate information about health and services, various media, such as leaflets, videos, radio announcements and SMS messages will be disseminated.

Much of the needed education involves demystifying contraception and pregnancy. Amina, a pregnant student, revealed: “I did not take contraceptives because my mom told me that it might make me sterile.” Some girls are also told that not getting pregnant by age 15 or 16, “is a problem,” remarked Clarissa, 22.

The Zero Pregnancies in School Campaign was launched in Bondoukou, the most affected area in Côte d’Ivoire. Students in the region brought banners to the event with such messages as “Zero pregnancy in school, I endorse it,” “You don’t get a child pregnant” and “I am a child. A child doesn’t bear a child. A child goes to school to succeed.”

The government is making even further changes. Laws have been introduced that increase penalties for the sexual abuse of minors. Most significantly, this includes sanctions against teachers who abuse their students. Girls are often pressured into sex with teachers in order to get good grades.

Additionally, the government is planning to build better housing for the 10,000 to 15,000 students in cities that must board. This will enable the young students to have proper housing where boys and girls do not have to share a room.

The government also no longer expels girls when they are pregnant, and girls are returning to school after giving birth. Amina told UNFPA, “My mom takes care of my baby when I come to school.” Clarissa’s mom also takes care of her son. Clarissa explained to UNFPA that she still has her dreams: “I lost a school year,” but “I want to become a teacher.”

Janet Quinn

Sources: UNFPA, UNFPA, Demographic Dividend, UNFPA
Photo: Flickr


In central and northern Côte d’Ivoire, cashew nut farming has drastically improved the lives of small scale farmers.

Since the 1960s, cashew farming has replaced other popular West African cash-crops like cocoa beans, rubber and cotton since cashews generate a much larger profit. Local farmers say that their farms are where “money grows on trees,” according to How We Made It in Africa.

“These farmers don’t grow cocoa like elsewhere in the country. Cashew nut is the only cash crop they can rely on all-year-round. So, it is understandable that they would refer to their orchards in this way,” explained Ga Kone of the Conseil du Coton et de l’Anacarde, the Council of Cotton and Cashew (CCA), in an interview with Africa Renewal.

In 2014, Côte d’Ivoire was responsible for the production of 550,000 tons of raw cashews, or 22% of the total global production of cashews. At the end of the 2015 harvesting season, experts expect that Côte d’Ivoire will produce 600,000 tons.

CCA, the cashew farmer’s marketing board made up of government representatives, farmers and bankers, estimates that Côte d’Ivoire’s annual production has grown at a rate of 11% per year. A combination of factors have enabled Côte d’Ivoire’s recent success. The hardiness of the trees and the increase in global demand for cashews are two main reasons.

Cashews were initially introduced to Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa in the early 1960s to prevent desertification and soil erosion. The evergreen tropical trees can grow up to 12 meters high and are able to survive in harsh weather and soil conditions. Environmentalists often recommend cashew trees for reforestation programs, and the trees were planted to create protected forest areas.

When Côte d’Ivoire first began to produce cashews, the country only generated around 300 tons of cashews annually, and production remained at this rate for around 30 years. In 2002, production reached 100,000 tons.

“The growth is more than impressive. It’s astounding. We’ve never seen a country grow its production in the way Côte d’Ivoire has over the past decade,” said Jim Fitzpatrick, a cashew expert, to Reuters last year.

Despite the country’s cashew-driven economic boom, Côte d’Ivoire still has room for even greater improvement and the potential to generate much more income. The processing of raw cashews enables farmers to sell the cashews for a significantly higher price. Côte d’Ivoire currently only processes 40,000 tons of cashews locally, while it has the potential to process 65,000 tons.

African countries produce 45% of the total global production of cashews, or 1.2 million tons each year. Only 10% of this production is processed locally, says the African Cashew Initiative, which is funded by the German government, private companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Côte d’Ivoire begins to process its cashews, there is the potential to increase profit by $127 million—if it processes 100,000 tons by 2020.

Currently, the processing that does occur is rudimentary; it usually is simply sorting whole nuts and broken nuts and then placing them into separate sacks for export.

If this West African nation begins to process all of its cashew nuts and then export them, the economic potential is immense. A study by CCA found that for every 100,000 tons of processing the country implements, 12,300 factory jobs and 10,000 other jobs will be created.

Many regions of Côte d’Ivoire remain entrenched in harsh poverty. In the Zanzan District in the northeastern region of the country, the poverty level is among the highest in the country. Six out of 10 people live below the poverty line—they cannot afford a daily kilogram of rice while 75% do not have access to sanitary drinking water.

Côte d’Ivoire has experienced incredible economic stimulation with its recent cashew boom—by committing to process its cashews locally, the country has the potential to alleviate regions still entrenched in poverty.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: How We Made It in Africa, Reuters, African Cashew Alliance
Photo: African Business Magazine

New Vaccine to Protect Children in Côte d’Ivoire-TBP
Under the recommendation from the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, the Ivorian government has introduced the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), a new vaccine to protect children, into routine immunization programs.

The plan was drawn up due to the spread of polio to over 20 virus-free countries in the past 10 years from regions still considered endemic areas.

Côte d’Ivoire has been implementing strategies from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which has members who support the plan, since 1997, the last time a polio type 2 case was reported. There has been no detection of wild polio cases in the country since July 2011.

By introducing IPV into routine immunization programs, Côte d’Ivoire will ensure the protection of 650,000 children every year from the virus. The first vaccines were administered at a ceremony on June 26.

The Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 focuses on four objectives. The plan aims to identify and disrupt the transmission of the virus, create a stronger immunization system and withdraw the oral polio vaccine (OPV), contain the virus and use the knowledge, and help address other global health goals.

By removing OPV from immunization programs, Côte d’Ivoire is eliminating the chance of vaccine-derived polio, a small risk associated with the vaccine.

IPV, however, will increase the protection of children in the West African nation.

The plan was originally endorsed by the World Assembly in 2013 and organizations such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and United Nations Children’s Fund are helping to spearhead the plan.

Matt Wotus

Sources: Gavi 1, Gavi 2, Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Photo: All Africa

education in cote
Education in Cote d’Ivoire is present and plentiful for those who can afford it. While there are free public schools available to Ivoirians, families are still required to pay for books, uniforms and supplies.

Additionally, over two-thirds of native Ivoirians work in agriculture, and children are often needed as part of the work force. The unfortunate reality is that most students who receive a proper education in Cote d’Ivoire are not natives of the country.

Zeina Jebeile, a current student at Boston University who grew up in Cote d’Ivoire but was not born there, says that the private school education she received was comparable to the education received by her friends in the United States. “We learned a lot of similar things, it was just in a different language,” Zeina explained. She continued to clarify that public schools are only available to those born in the Ivory Coast, and people like her who were born in other countries must attend expensive private schools.

Due to the French colonization of Cote d’Ivoire the vast majority of schools run on the French system and have the exact same curriculum as high schools in France. While being a native of the Ivory Coast holds the benefit of free primary education, students have a much higher chance of attending university if they graduate from one of the French, American or Lebanese private schools.

Due to the high cost of schooling, “not everybody gets access to education, and it’s sad because a lot of them are really interested in doing so,” Zeina explained. “Education is about $7,000 a year for high school, which is kind of ridiculous, but that’s what you get for the ‘French Prestige.’” In order to combat this, small tutoring centers have popped up throughout the country. The centers operate on a volunteer basis, with classes usually taught by Americans and Europeans travelling abroad to teach languages.

Language is a problem within the private schools as well. Zeina, who attended a French school, said that there is little emphasis placed on learning English. “You have the option between German, Italian and Spanish…. And the English is very, very basic. In the last year of high school they literally teach you things like ‘my dog’s name is Bobo.’”

Despite her classmates’ limited knowledge of the English language, a diploma from a French private school almost certainly leads to an acceptance into a French University, as well as easier access to a French visa. Those who graduate from Ivoirian Schools must either be the very top of their class or come from wealthy families if they wish to continue their education in college. “The system is very limiting for most people who live in the Ivory Coast,” Zeina admitted. “At the end of the day if you don’t have money you don’t really get access to education.”

The Ivory Coast has a population of 15 million, approximately one third of which are non-Ivoirians. Out of the 128,318 students enrolled in high school, 42 percent attend private school. In addition to high poverty rates among Ivoirians and the necessity for child labor, there are other factors which can prevent children from receiving the best education possible.

Cote d’Ivoire has suffered through two civil wars in the past 15 years. Political conflict instigated outbreaks of violence in 2002, leading to a five-year civil war that killed and displaced thousands. Just three years after the call for peace, violence broke out once again leading to a second civil war that lasted from 2010-2011. The physical and emotional damage inflicted upon residents of the Ivory Coast during these wars contribute to days of school missed.

Taylor Lovett

Sources: Interview with Zeina, Our Africa, University of Szeged, Kuno Library
Photo: Unocha

For arable countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the money made on agricultural exports is often invaluable. It can strengthen a government’s budget, benefit farmers who harvest the crops, and improve the overall the standard of living. When this source of money is removed, however, development can slow down for lack of funds.

In Cote d’Ivoire, the increasing importance of cashew exports is undermined by rampant smuggling. A United Nations panel estimated that in 2011, 150,000 tons of cashews were smuggled from Côte d’Ivoire, a trend that is unlikely to change unless foreign purchasers of the nuts crack down on smuggling practices.

Why do Ivorian cashew farmers smuggle cashews? Farmers are often unable to find desirable export prices on raw, unprocessed cashews, and instead sell to neighboring Ghana. Cashews are usually smuggled alongside cocoa, cotton, and coffee on an elaborate smuggling route through the northern and southern borders.

The export loss is staggering. The U.N. estimated that in 2011 alone Côte d’Ivoire lost US $130 million from its national economy and $3 million in fiscal revenue. The U.N. Panel asserted that the money gained from smuggling practices may be used by groups to purchase weaponry illegally, and stated that it was aware that the smuggling of cocoa to Ghana was in a number of cases escorted directly by Ivorian military forces.

Economists pinpoint the reason for low export prices as the low processing capacity for the six main nut processing factories. Less than one percent of the country’s cashews are processed, meaning shelled and sometimes roasted, in-country. Raw cashews net a lower market price. When farmers are unable to legally export their crop for the price they want, they turn to buyers in Ghana. Ultimately, this practice widens the funding gap for Ivorian infrastructure and development projects, growing obstacles to a more stable economy. Ultimately, for this country plagued with political instability and an unstable economy, the revenue created by legal cashew exports could help the country address its biggest challenges.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: African Development Bank Group, IRIN News, IRIN News
Photo: Jerry’s Nut House

Cooa_program_Côte d'Ivoire

In a press release published on PR Newswire, the world’s biggest chocolate company, Mondelez International, Inc. recently announced an agreement that it made with the Ivorian government’s Conseil du Cafe Cacao (CCC) to aid farmers with more sustainable production of cocoa.

Mondelez International is known for producing delightful, globally well-known, and billion-dollar chocolate brands such as Toblerone and Cadbury. The CCC agreement also covered building “thriving communities” in Cote d’Ivoire. Thus, the non-profit organization, CARE International, which tackles poverty and injustice in 87 countries, will lead the program Cocoa Life in Ivorian cocoa communities through 2016.

Sustainability is the key goal of this program and in order to achieve that, partnership is essential. Thus, Mondelez is teaming up with CARE International and the Ivorian government to create and maintain a sustainable production and supply of cocoa, and to empower cocoa farming families to “create the kind of communities they and their children want to live in, while promoting gender equality.”

As a result of this goal, Cocoa Life and CARE International initiated a program in Cote d’Ivoire working in 11 villages helping approximately 4,000 farmers with production of cocoa, and improving 40,000 lives. Both organizations set up meetings where farming families discuss what they need and achieve desired development results through “Community Action Plans.” In addition to meetings, and in honor of preserving gender equality, meetings were held for women specifically to enable them to voice their opinions and concerns. The press release also mentions how Cocoa Life plans to involve women in farmer training and community life all together.

The Country Director of CARE International in Cote d’Ivoire, Balla Sidibe, mentioned how business plays a key role in fighting poverty and injustice, and in order to better facilitate that, Mondelez must incorporate farmers and communities as the central part of the supply chain. And finally, the press release includes last November’s achievements in Cote d’Ivoire where Mondelez International made a 100 million dollar commitment to aid 75,000 farmers increase productivity. The Cocoa Life program is a $400 million ten year commitment to “improve the livelihoods and living conditions of more than 200,000 cocoa farmers and about one million people in cocoa farming communities around the world.”

– Leen Abdallah

Source: PR Newswire