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The joy of turning on a household water faucet in a Cabo Verde neighborhood

March 21, 2015

By Donald L. Heflin

In Paul, some households have water (see small grey storage tank near the top of hill) and sanitation both (community septic tank).

This past weekend, I had the extreme honor of joining Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves and representatives of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation to celebrate a partnership that reaches across governments, incorporates the private sector, relies on the expertise of locally empowered NGOs, and depends upon the individual household to be successful.

Maria Jose, 70, enjoys running water at home for the first time.

In my first public act as U.S. Ambassador to Cabo Verde, I was both humbled and filled with pride in witnessing the simple act of turning on a household water faucet at the house of a 70-year-old woman named Maria José, a simple act she had never before been able to do in the comfort of her own home. 

As one of the approximately 40,000 people living on the outskirts of the city of Mindelo, Maria José and others in her community shared how MCC’s investments in water and sanitation are transforming the lives of people living in these neighborhoods by providing the well-established health benefits of a reliable, convenient, regulated and clean water supply.

And even beyond helping reduce water-borne diseases, I learned how these households are spending fewer hours fetching water from a public standpipe, a water source that is twice as expensive and obviously more time and labor intensive – a burden which falls disproportionately on women and children. 

As we celebrate World Water Day, this MCC investment holds great promise.  MCC is not only connecting households to the public water and sewage network, but it is attacking much more systemic challenges such working with the Government of Cabo Verde to adopt reforms to the national policy and regulatory framework, crafting new pro-poor water tariffs and a structuring a modern water and sanitation code that will improve resource management on this water-scarce country. 

I’m pleased to see the promise of MCC’s partnership in Cabo Verde, partnering with local government, private utilities, and like-minded philanthropists such as The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, which is to transform its policy and institutional mandate, reform inefficient utilities, and improve the quality and reach of water and sanitation infrastructure across the nation. Together I know we will do great things, and I am excited to be here to assist in this challenging endeavor to reduce poverty and grow economic opportunities here in Cabo Verde.