Three rows of pupils, in the foreground a girl smiling into the camera.
© A. Keita

Mali: Water, sanitation and hygiene for schools in the region of Gao


one-time    regular
As everywhere else, school is the place for building the future for children in Gao. In school, their course for life is set. But even though teachers and parents do their very best to support the children, teaching, and therefore learning is experiencing major challenges. A major reason for that is a need for better infrastructure, such as access to clean water and sanitation. Because the official authorities aren’t in the financial position to support educational programs in the economically weakened north of Mali, arche noVa supports the children of the region and installs water supply and sanitary systems at the schools.
Simple World Map - Author: Al MacDonald Editor: Fritz Lekschas License: CC BY-SA 3.0 ID: ISO 3166-1 or "_[a-zA-Z]" if an ISO code is not available

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Half of the population lives below the poverty line, the expected life span is around 50 years. During the last decade, the country was hit by various drought periods that intensified the problem of food shortages und pushed the prices for food higher.

Traces of armed conflicts

Moreover the country’s North is struggling with the consequences of militant fights. Though the intervention of the army and international forces calmed down the situation escalating since 2012. Still the impact of the fights can be seen everywhere. The fled families return into a devastated region, where numerous buildings and large parts of the infrastructure have been wrecked. Economic life has nearly come to a standstill and the local authorities are overstrained with the reconstruction. Additionally one has to be alert to further terrorist attacks and criminal assaults.

arche noVa active on-site

arche noVa has been striving in North Mali since 2013. Our aid projects support people on-site in developing a perspective for themselves. Our activities next to the rehabilitation of the infrastructure also include educational programs. With this new project arche noVa concentrates a second time on WaSH-supply at schools in rural areas. Whereas we worked in the region of Timbuktu in 2014, now we aim at schools in Gao.

Insufficient water supply at schools

Even before the military conflict the state of the schools in our project area was everything but ideal. Too less and too small buildings were poorly equipped. The state’s efforts to improve the situation were thrown back by the outbreak of the fights.
Our local partner organisation NorDev came back from their exploration tour into the region with a long list of defects. Only at two of 31 chosen schools there was a drilling hole with a functioning hand pump. At 13 schools the systems where damaged, at 16 schools there was not even an access to potable water. The same goes for the school toilets. At nearly all schools the sanitary facilities are missing, at some they are in a desolate state. The majority of the children defecates out in the open.
But how are children supposed to learn if they are thirsty? How are they supposed to stay healthy if the water they fetch at home or in the school’s neighbourhood is not safe? Where should they go if there is no privacy? Again and again children are missing classes in Mali’s schools because they suffer from diseases connected with missing water and sanitary supply. The number of dropouts is also high, especially among girls who need menstrual hygiene. They tend not to go to school at all rather than struggle with the missing toilets there.

Construction of wells and toilets

In our project we are securing an appropriate supply with water and sanitation facilities for all the school children. Wells will be drilled and repaired, pumps installed, toilets built and hand washing facilities constructed. The pupils should be able to experience an arranged school routine without having to ask for drinking water or a toilet in the nearby villages. With those measures missing hours and illness induced absence can be reduced. Additionally there will be trainings on the topics of hygiene and health protection for all children and their teaching staff. By the knowledge earned at school and hygiene routines practiced daily the children will attain behavioural patterns, which will have a positive effect on hygiene and health provision at their homes and in their private environments.
Furthermore the families living near to the involved schools will profit from the project directly. People in the neighbourhood will be able to use the wells too, however by paying a small fee. This money will be reinvested into the maintenance of the systems.
This project is implemented in cooperation with Plan International Deutschland e.V. Our cooperation partner simultaneously cares for further WASH activities with additional communities in the same region with focus on municipal supply. 

Project Overview

  • Increased access to clean water, WASH facilities and infrastructure for waste deposal
  • use of improved hygiene practices in 20 communities affected by the conflict and 31 schools in the project area


Target Group
  • 9000 students and their teachers, access to drinking water for circa 45 000 people
  • Well drilling and installation of hand pumps at 14 locations
  • Rehabilitation of 14 existing boreholes with hand pumps
  • Training of 30 local bricklayers for construction and renovation of WASH facilities
  • Rehabilitation of 12 school toilets
  • New construction of 51 school toilets
  • Installation of hand wash basins at 31 schools
  • Training of teachers and pupils as well as in the communities on hygiene-relevant topics
  • Capacity expansion for the maintenance of sanitary facilities
  • Provision of hygiene kits
  • Establishment of hygiene clubs
August 2017 – expected May 2019
Co-operation partners
  • NorDev (Nord et Developpement)
  • Plan International Deutschland e.V.

Federal Foreign Office

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a bag of cement for the building of school toilets
securing water supply for a child
construction of a hand washing sink
repair of a drilling hole