Wells and pumps in Niger
Niger is a drought-prone country in Africa. Located on the edge of the Sahara Desert, there is little rain and people struggle to grow enough food to survive. Most people live in rural areas. Less than half the population has access to clean, safe water and only about 1 in 10 people has a safe way of disposing of toilet waste.
With little rainfall, people depend on underground water collected from deep wells dug by hand. A rim built around the well prevents people from falling in and protects the water from dirt and animals. Over time, however, the ground surrounding the wells becomes wet and muddy as water is spilt. This can contaminate the water underneath and create conditions in which mosquitoes breed.
Drawing water from a well is a difficult job. Zelifa has a long rope that she is careful not to let drag in the mud. A large rubber sheet tied in a number of places to hold it open forms a kind of bucket (wasikis in the Hausa language), which easily fills with water. But the heavy load means the rope can cut into her hands so she uses a scarf to protect them.
Carrying heavy loads of water is a difficult, time-consuming task. This boy uses a cart drawn by a zebu (a type of cattle) to help transport a load of water over one kilometre back to his village.
Sometimes water is overdrawn and villagers have to wait until it seeps through the aquifer and fills the well again. A carved wooden pulley is mounted over the well to make it easier to pull up the load of water. Donkeys help haul the water from the well back to the village.
This well has been dug by hand but the surrounding area has been sealed with concrete to protect the water. Women work in pairs to pull the heavy water out of the well using metal pulleys mounted on a strong frame.
At the village of Dara, World Vision has drilled a new hole and fitted a pump to make collecting water easier. The hole is very deep so more water is available, and the pump reduces the hard work of pulling it up to the surface.
Women from Dara queue to use the pump. They fill open metal bowls and traditional clay pots with water and pay a small fee to help pay for maintenance of the pump.
Improving people’s access to clean water dramatically improves their lives. Less time is spent drawing and carrying water. Children can attend school and women can work in small businesses to earn an income. People’s health also improves. They are able to grow more food and are less likely to suffer from water-borne diseases.