Notes to broadcasters
Water is an issue that stimulates passionate discussion and action throughout the planet. In Benin, only 52% of households in rural areas have access to safe drinking water. Water-related diseases, such as infection with guinea worm, typhoid fever, and cholera, are very common. Here, like most sub-Saharan African countries, some communities have very poor access to water, whether it is drinkable or not. A whole village may migrate when there is a drought. Conflicts between crop farmers and livestock breeders or between neighbouring villages are frequent around water points.
Yet access to water is a fundamental human right. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights acknowledges the right to water. This international agreement requires governments to ensure that good quality water is available and accessible to citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status, and not only to those who can afford it.
But this is not the case in most countries. In big cities, privatization or overbilling of water can make it difficult for poorer people to access water. It allows water providers to cheat those who need water. Financial scandals, embezzlement of public funds, bribery and structural adjustments that privatize and shrink state agencies, all affect poor peoples’ access to water. Corruption drains resources and limits the expansion of water systems to villages.
According to the 2006 United Nations’ report on water, corruption is one reason why 1.25 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. A study on the Millennium Development Goals in Africa found that some 20 billion US dollars may be embezzled in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the 2008 Report of Transparency International on corruption in the world, Benin is classified as number 118 out of a total of 180 countries. Considering these scandals, citizen watchfulness and participatory management of water resources is sorely needed.
This script tells the story of a village which decides that participatory management of water systems is the best way to fight against corruption in the water sector.
This script is a mini-drama based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Mommy, (also president of the female rice farmers’ group)
Group of female rice farmers
Presenter: Pacôme Tomètissi Sounds of oxen mooing, water flowing, birds shrieking, car horns, sound of footsteps on the soil, and clapping. A local song on water, sanitation or corruption Signature tune for 30 seconds
Water is life. It is indispensable for drinking as well as for growing crops and raising cattle. But when corruption gets into the picture, hello trouble! In the story you will hear in a moment, a rich man from the Djidja region of Benin manufactured a few thousand water bottles with his picture on it. He planned to give the bottles to a village whose rice fields and cattle suffer from lack of water. Listen up.Morning sounds: roosters, etc. The village is awakening. Sound of voices here and there.
Sound of bowl then sound of water being poured into a jar. Sound of steps coming on mic.
Fifonsi is startled. She cries out and drops the bowl heavily in the basin of water.
Fade out. Sound of footsteps coming on mic.
Sound and horn of a car. A short silence, then sound of footsteps coming on mic. Murmuring voices then, suddenly, silence.
I have some words for the management committee that will be created to manage the rice fields and its irrigation system: management must be as clear and as healthy as the water. And a word to the people: paying your contributory fees is a citizen’s act.Cheering and applause. Fade out under Pacôme’s voice.
- Contributed by: Pacôme Tomètissi, journalist and producer, Réseau de réalisateurs et journalistes pour population et développement (ReJPoD), Benin, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
- Reviewed by: Erik Nielsen, Manager Country Based Programmes, Water Integrity Network and Alexandra Malmqvist, Assistant Communications Coordinator, Water Integrity Network.
- Transparency International, Rapport mondial sur la corruption – corruption dans le secteur de l’eau, 2008.
- Brochure of the Water Integrity Network