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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Managing Water: Niger

Water in Africa

Africa, Niger

by Kim Arth, Balleyara, Niger

Women bring water from the well every day. It is the woman's job to wash clothes, prepare the food, and bathe the children—all of which need water. A mother will pass on this tedious task to her daughters when they are old enough.

Farmers plant millet, sorghum, and beans only during the rainy season (late June to early September). They rely on the rains to give them a good crop that will be the family's food supply for the next year. As an agriculture Volunteer I teach the villagers about Zai-holes and demi-lunes or D-catchments. These provide sunken surfaces for rainwater to collect in the places where crops have been planted.

It is planting season right now, and it is common to see gardeners channeling runoff water from one plant to another. For example, my neighbor, Balka, has started a pepinere (seedling nursery) with four cassava bowls containing lettuce and cabbage seeds. When the water drains from the bowls, it is channeled to nearby potato plants. Even though Balka planted the garden, it is his wife, Tintime, who waters it everyday.

by David McNally, Takoro, Niger

Women typically keep track of water supplies in the household. They ensure that buckets and or clay pots are kept full and that animals receive drinking water. Our village has control over its wells, but there is little in the way of management of the water quality or quantity. Farmers rely on summer rains for all their agricultural needs, with some using well water for off-season gardening (onions, vegetables, etc.).

by Paul Booth, Dosso, Niger

In my village, women spend many hours a day getting water for their families.

Farmers depend on rain. Some have been known to practice animistic rituals to get the rains to start. I once heard that, when there was little rain one year, the men put on the women's clothes and went out in the bush to pound millet, in the hope of encouraging more rain.

by Kimberly Mace, Dani Yari, Niger

Women have the sole responsibility for bringing water from the well for the family's daily use. In the Fulani tribes, men who are animal herders will pull water from the wells for their cows, sheep, goats, and camels.

In terms of availability of water for farming, the people depend upon Lrikoy, or God. Too little or too much rain can cause havoc with millet production—the primary food source for the whole community.

by Kelley Sams, Kawari, Niger

It may seem like men are in charge here, but the women control the really important things— nourishing life with food and water.

There are some men who are paid to bring water to the gardens of richer families, but women get water for their families each morning and afternoon without getting paid.

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