In the absence of basic sanitation, life in rural Mozambique during the dry season involves a relentless cycle of arduous journeys to collect water unfit for drinking. The struggle for survival, which affects young and old alike, puts those affected at risk of disease and leaves little time for anything else
Photographs: Mário Macilau/WaterAid
Water is evaporating from the beautiful landscapes of Mozambique. There is too little to keep people alive, and the lack of it
is forcing them from their homes, splitting up families and killing
children. Photographer Mário Macilau travelled around his country,
talking to people whose only supply of water is from filthy rivers that
dry up quickly in the hotter months.
In northern Mozambique’s Niassa province, only 21% of people have access
to safe sanitation and just 42% have a clean water supply. Only half
the area’s boreholes and wells are operational, forcing women and
children to spend a great deal of time walking to fetch water.
Eudicia lives in Muassi village. She and her friend Josefina miss
school up to four times a week as they have to fetch water from the
“Going to collect water is not fun. I’m not happy because it’s too
far. I’m not laughing because if I’m just laughing I won’t reach home
until night. There are snakes and dogs there,” Eudicia says.
“We go in groups, because we’re afraid to go alone. Carrying the
water is too heavy; it is dirty and has a bad smell, like grass or old
leaves … Even when we do have water to wash, the water is dirty, so if
you wash you are not really clean. I feel shy when I am dirty or my
clothes are not clean.
“I miss school every other day or so, to collect water. I don’t feel good because I am absent from school.”
In Mozambique, the statistics are stark: 14.8 million people have no clean water,
and more than 21 million are without a safe place to go to the toilet.
Women and children make long, exhausting journeys to collect dirty water
for their families. A lack of private toilets in schools causes many
girls to leave when they start menstruating. Health centres are
overcrowded and have inadequate sanitation. All of this leads to disease
outbreaks: seven of every 100 children die before turning five. More...