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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Health and Nutrition: Niger

Water in Africa

Africa, Niger

by Kim Arth, Balleyara, Niger

There are often small worms swimming in well water. I have not been sick yet, and therefore wonder if the worms aren't harmless. I also have not seen any illnesses in the villagers that can be directly traced to the water.

The community built a protective edge around the well to keep dirt out. The villagers are also careful about keeping animals, trash, and other pollutants away from the well area. Each woman keeps her water buckets clean, and ropes and logos are never placed on the ground. Buckets are used solely for water and not used for cooking or gathering manure, etc. In the home, water containers are always covered with a circular mat that prevents pests from entering. Further, whenever a bowl of water is presented, it is covered to keep flies away.

If there is a problem, however, it concerns the way dishes are washed. The water is clean, but water without soap does not kill bacteria. A dirty bowl may sit out all day for flies and rodents to feed on. It is then washed only with water and reused. This, of course, causes sickness.

by David McNally, Takoro, Niger

Well water is fresh and generally clean. The sandy soils of Niger help filter the groundwater and keep it clear. The major sources of contamination of the wells, however, are animal wastes.

Animals congregate around the wells. Sometimes their waste enters the wells because of water splashing, traffic, or winds that carry dried wastes, leaves, dust, stalks, etc., into wells. Rains also wash in contaminants and create puddles near the wells, which breed bacteria. The villagers in our area do their best to ensure that the wells are clean.

by Kimberly Mace, Dani Yari, Niger

The well water in my community is very clear and clean. Often, the wind will blow leaves and other things into the well, but this does not normally cause many problems.

I filter my drinking water and chlorinate it myself. The other villagers, however, do not take this extra precaution. Still, I do drink the water offered to me by my neighbors and have not had any problems.

Sheep, goats, and cows wandering through the village can contaminate the containers for drinking water. To prevent this, people put their water holders behind fences made of wire. They also shoo the animals from all food and water.

by Kelley Sams, Kawari, Niger

My drinking water is fresh from the well, and not very clean. Our well doesn't have a well apron (a wall around the well to keep the animals out) and the buckets that are used to pull water are often placed down on the ground, where animals can contaminate them. Because of this, we have many gastrointestinal problems of my village, and I myself am sick for three days each time I drink unfiltered water. I plan to work on building a well apron around the opening of the well during the course of my Peace Corps service.

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