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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Daily Usage: Niger

Water in Africa

Africa, Niger

by Kim Arth, Balleyara, Niger

As the sun rises, I too rise out of bed and promptly boil two cups of water for my daily dose of coffee. I go out into the yard and water my garden (one bucket). While I brush my teeth and get dressed, I drink two big glasses of water, since dehydration is a major concern here. I then make "rounds" through the village, often stopping at friends' houses to chat.

Most recently, my work consists of gardening and fence-building. I have a women's pepinere in my yard. Each day, one of the women waters the young seedlings. I make rope out of palm fronds—the shredded fronds must be soaked in water in order to be flexible enough to be braided into rope. Once made, the rope itself must be soaked so that it does not crack when tying the wood stakes to the millet stalks.

At lunchtime I boil water for rice or pasta and continue to drink lots of water. I sometimes travel to extension or nearby villages to sell seeds or see about some other project. In these instances, I always carry water with me to drink. When evening comes I again water my garden (one bucket) and trees (two buckets every other day). I bathe with half a bucket of water, and end the day by again using water for cooking dinner and, of course, drinking.

A breakdown of my daily water usage:

Drinking/Cooking—one bucket to fill two filters
Bathing—half a bucket every other day
Garden—two buckets daily
Trees—two buckets every other day
Gulla: (dishes, clothes, miscellaneous uses)—two buckets daily
Total: five and a half to seven buckets of water daily

Obviously, I use much less water here than I did back home in the States. I'm much more conscious of my water usage here, because it's not as easy as turning on a faucet. I have to think about where my water will come from, how to get the water, and when to get it. Then, I have to prioritize my water needs. For example, every day I have to decide whether to water my trees or to bathe myself. Most often, I alternate between tree-watering and bathing. But when I've worked hard and it's "tree watering day," it's a hassle! I also hate washing clothes, tend to wear the same jeans and T-shirt for as long as possible!

In Niger, five to seven buckets of water is a lot for one person to use everyday. But my head spins, when I think that five buckets is equal to about one shower or one toilet flush back home!

by David McNally, Takoro, Niger

On waking, I first wash my face and eyes. The dry, dusty air in Niger often results in lots of "sleep" caked onto one's eyes in the morning. Then, routine washing is done: last night's dishes, clothes, etc. Finally, I'll refill our water filter so that we can drink clean water throughout the day. In the afternoon, we might water our garden and compost pile (this aids the breakdown of materials). Before sundown, we'll bathe using a bucket and cup. Peace Corps Niger Volunteers wash and bathe using less than four liters of water! The main difference between our uses of water in Niger and the United States is that, because there is no running water here, we use considerably less and have to carry all our water.

by Paul Booth, Dosso, Niger

In the morning, I rush to the well before it gets too crowded. I spend about an hour pulling water from the well for my garden. Then, I come back home and have a cup of tea. My day does not officially begin until I've had that first cup of tea.

Because I'm not very good at cooking, a neighbor will often take pity on me and help me make something to eat. The method of cooking in Niger depends on water because they believe that you must boil everything first.

by Kimberly Mace, Dani Yari, Niger

Every morning, Taway, a 17-year-old girl, brings me two buckets of water. I use about four liters of this for drinking water.

At noon, I wash dishes and clothes with a liter or two of water, and throw the used water into my garden. Around this time, I also set a bucket of water out in the sun. This warms up my water for a comfortable bucket bath. I take my bucket bath right after dusk. Once again, I try to reuse some of my bathing water for my garden.

The people in my community use water in the ways I do. Water is definitely not taken for granted in this community. In this dry, semidesert area, water is precious.

by Kelley Sams, Kawari, Niger

Water is not used for leisure activities here. But even though I don't take any relaxing bubble baths here, I still indulge in a large (for Niger!) amount of water each evening to take a bucket bath.

Women use a very small amount of water to clean clothes. Everyone is very careful about wasting water, because every drop must be carried on someone's head. Even after using water for cooking or washing, the water is then used in our gardens.

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