The Source of Our Water: Niger
Water in Africa
- Africa, Niger
by Kim Arth, Balleyara, Niger
My water comes from a well about 30 yards from my home. The well is 40 meters deep and the top edge is lined with thick tree branches. To get water from this well, you pull up a black rubber bowl (or logo) attached to a rope. It takes four to five of these bowls to fill one bucket—back-breaking work. I often see women helping each other pull water from the well. Every woman in the village has calluses the size of marbles on their palms from pulling up the rope day after day. A woman from each family typically pulls three to four buckets of water twice a day, not to mention the extra water needed for laundry.
Although there is no dirt in the water, I often see small worms swimming in it, so I always need to filter it and add bleach.
A few years ago, a Peace Corps Volunteer installed a new concrete well in this village. I just cleaned and fixed this well, and it is now useable once again. But it is located on the other side of the village, far from where I live, so I don't use it.
Both wells are very deep, so water is always available.
by David McNally, Takoro, Niger
Our drinking water comes from a hand-dug well roughly one kilometer away from our village. The water wells are about one and a half meters wide, and the water table is reached at two meters. There are wells closer to our village, but the water is not suitable for drinking. Due to the mineralogy of the area, these wells contain dissolved salts. All our villagers use these salty wells for watering their animals and gardens.
Water is available year-round, but sometimes the wells are "pulled" dry, and one must wait an hour or so until the groundwater refills the well. There are no pumps where we live, and all the drinking water is pulled out of the wells by rubber containers on ropes (wasikis, in Hausa) by women and young girls, or by calabash containers (gugas, in Hausa) by men.
by Paul Booth, Dosso, Niger
Compared with other villages in Niger, my village has an abundance of water. The village is situated near a riverbed that once fed the Niger River. The water table is very high. The well that my water comes from is only two meters deep. The only problem with the high water table is that the water is often sandy.
My village is full of small ponds that are used for making bricks, planting sugar cane, and many other uses. Most activities in my village depend upon these ponds.
by Kimberly Mace, Dani Yare, Niger
The water in my village, Dani Yare, comes from one large, centrally located well. It supplies enough water for all 250 people. We are fortunate because the well water is superb—crystal clear and fresh tasting.
The well is about 40 meters deep. We use a plastic water-holder tied to a rope to pull the water up. Since I am not accustomed to getting my own water this way, I pay a girl in the village to bring me my water. Occasionally, when I have more water needs for my garden or tree, I go to the well and pull water for myself (with the help of other village women). This is hard work. At first, when I tried to help the women, they wouldn't let me. They feared that my hands would become full of calluses. But now, they let me help. I still can't balance a full bucket of water on my head, though. I'm not sure if I ever will. Nigerien women are amazing—so strong and so beautiful!
by Kelley Sams, Kawari, Niger
All of our water for drinking, washing, cooking, and watering our vegetable gardens comes from a well. Although my village is in the Sahel (the large area south of the Sahara), the water table is not too deep. To pull water out of this well, all you need are two strong women. When a water table is very deep, you need a bull and several women to pull the water out.
Here is the process of getting water from our well: One woman helps the other woman pull and fill her water container. Then they switch. Without this teamwork, we would not have our drinking water.
It rains only three months a year. The rest of the year, we rely on the village well for our water.