Today, life is very different for the girls and women of Mba Mondo in northern Nigeria.

Until recently, they had to collect dirty water from a pond a kilometre away from their village, and with no access to safe toilets, they were forced to relieve themselves out in the open – leaving them at risk of harassment and attack.

“We were afraid to go and collect water,” says Mercy, 22, who is expecting her second child.

Woman stands in pond ready to collect water
The pond where Mercy used to collect water.

“You could see local herdsmen with guns. They attacked us a lot. We were afraid because of the continuous violence.”

A daily risk for girls and women

Around the world, millions of girls and women carry the responsibility for collecting water for their families. It costs them hours of their time every day, preventing them from going to school, earning a living and spending quality time with their families.

The long journey can also leave them vulnerable to assault – as can the indignity of having to defecate in the open.

“I used to wake up very early to go to the pond to fetch water, only to discover that the herdsmen were also there,” says Mama Tabitha, 40.

“Most of the time they harassed us. I had to run and shout for help.”

Women stand in front of new water point.
Mercy (far right), Mama Tabitha (centre) and others at the new water point in Mba Mondo.

Helping communities stay safe and healthy

In Mba Mondo, we worked with our local partner, Logo WASH unit, and the HSBC Water Programme to help reduce the risks to girls and women.

We installed a new borehole nearby and provided access to new toilets, as well as promoting good hygiene practices – a community leader now goes from house-to-house encouraging families to make the most of their new facilities.

And while these steps alone cannot guarantee safety, the result is a significant improvement for the whole community.

“Today, with the water point nearer to us and my very own latrine, the herdsmen can’t harass me,” says Mama Tabitha. “They can’t stop me from getting water and going to the toilet.”

Read more about the HSBC Water Programme >