Baseline Survey of Peri-Urban Sanitation and Hygiene in Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, and Porto-Novo, Benin
Data from this study indicate that certain populations from the municipalities of Cotonou, Porto-Novo, and Abomey-Calavi lack basic hygiene and sanitation infrastructure even though they live in urban areas. The overall acceptability of conditions varies from one municipality to another. The results of the study reveal that nearly seven out of 10 households surveyed use an improved sanitation facility. The problem is less acute in Cotonou (79.9 percent) and Porto-Novo (67.6 percent) than in Abomey-Calavi (51.6 percent).
Although households recognize the importance of hand washing in preventing certain diseases, the act of washing hands with water and soap at key moments is still far from being a habit in many households. Hand washing stations exist in very few households, depending on whether the hand washing station is located near the kitchen or toilet. In Cotonou, the availability of hand washing stations is 28.4 percent near the kitchen compared to 8.6 percent near the toilets; in PortoNovo, 18.5 percent have hand washing stations near the kitchen compared to 4.3 percent near the toilets; and in Abomey-Calavi, 16.1 percent of households have facilities near the kitchen compared to 1.3 percent near the toilets.
Regarding household supply of drinking water, in nine out of 10 households surveyed the drinking water comes from the distribution network of SONEB. Only a minority of households drinks water from other sources, including wells. Only 5.8 percent of households treat drinking water. Results of chlorine tests made in households that used chlorination show the average concentration of chlorine in the water as 3.49 mg/l, which is very high considering the World Health Organization standard of free chlorine concentration of treated water is 0.2 to 0.5 mg/l.
Also, the average number of days that the households continue to drink treated water is 6.4 days. A poor household practice of mixing treated water with untreated whenever the water is renewed in the container was also observed. All these reasons explain the alarmingly low percentage of households that properly treat their drinking water. This indicator is 5.4 percent in Cotonou compared to 7.7 percent in Abomey-Calavi and 2.3 percent in Porto-Novo.