Spending time with family during lockdown in Madagascar

3 min read
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

Madagascar is only on partial lockdown, with 128 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of 29 April, but no official deaths. Everyone is being encouraged to work from home, but the WaterAid Madagascar office is still open for those who are collecting and distributing important supplies, like handwashing facilities and information posters.

In the third entry of our Lockdown Diary series Ernest Randriarimalala, our Voices from the Field Officer from Madagascar, tells us how he’s been helping local communities, enjoying time with his family and introduces us to the cutest and furriest family member – Honey the kitten.

I have spent the last eight years since I joined WaterAid visiting communities around Madagascar, so staying at home in Ankadifotsy all the time feels very strange and, I’ll be honest, is starting to get boring!

I’m really missing being out in the field, interacting with the people and communities I work with. And even though a lot of them have clean water, I worry if they have enough information about the virus and supplies like soap to protect themselves. I’ve managed to get in touch with a few of them on the phone, but I don’t know how most of them are coping.

No choice but to leave the house

It also worries me that there are many people who cannot stay at home all the time. They need to go out to work in the fields or markets, so they can earn a living – like the man I see outside my house every day carrying lots of jerry cans back and forth to a nearby water point.

A man carrying his yellow jerrycans across the street in front of Ernest's house
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

He’s one of the water carriers in my area and is paid to fetch water every morning for other households. Like mine, many homes in Ankadifotsy don’t have running water.

As I took the picture I noticed that he didn’t have a face mask to protect himself, so I stepped outside and gave him a washable one. He told me that with or without COVID-19 he must work, fetching water for others, to be able to buy food for his family. His job is so crucial for many people in my area.

Having the right information

Right now, I really appreciate that I have everything I need to keep safe and well, not least the internet so that I can stay up to date with the situation and latest advice. But others in the country don’t have this resource or information.

This is one of the reasons why I decided to go back to the office and help the team distribute leaflets, flyers and supplies around the city.

Enjoying time as a family

One of the positives of having to stay at home is getting to spend more time with my family. I have a wife, daughter, son and a very cute new kitten called Honey! We’ve been enjoying cooking together and just generally chatting.

My daughter Keirane and our kitten Honey outside of our flat
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

My daughter Keirane and I have always had an especially close relationship. Recently, as part of WaterAid Madagascar’s COVID-19 response, I did a short film on handwashing featuring her and now she is so proud of herself. The film is broadcast on national and local television – every day she gets calls from family and friends when the film is shown on TV.

We’ve also discovered we share a passion for photography, and pets. We did a photoshoot with our little kitten Honey and the pictures turned out amazing – we were really proud of them.

Honey the kitten standing in the sunlight
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

WaterAid’s global COVID-19 response

Right now, our teams around the world are working flat out to provide handwashing essentials to stop the spread of coronavirus.