Now, with deep wells and water pumps installed by World Vision, good health is common.
In the village of Mekaka, Niger, women and girls are gathered around the village well. Their lively conversations match their fast-paced arms pulling up heavy water containers from a 130-foot deep well. Drawing water in Mekaka takes an average of four hours each day. Hadiza Moussa, now 50, started to draw water from the village well when she was 8 years old. Hadiza says girls come to the well and work beside their mothers once they are strong enough to help. For girls, drawing water is a higher priority than attending school; therefore, they often miss class to help at the well.
However, in Mekaka, drawing water will not always be this difficult. The village is part of a World Vision sponsorship project area, and two water pumps will soon be drilled here. “We’ve seen the change in people’s lives, in other villages where there is already a water pump,” explains Hadiza. “Women spend less time fetching water, and it is less tiring, so they have more time and energy for their families.”
A change in the community
Drawing water from traditional wells in Zakara Hanou, another village in Niger, once took over three hours of intense labor. However, since the construction of the boreholes by World Vision, that same task now takes 30 minutes to accomplish.
Hassana, a 14-year-old girl, remembers how hard it was. “I had to lean over the deep, dark well, and when the bucket hit the water, my heart was beating so fast and the rope burned my hands,” she recalls. “I got dizzy looking down into the well, but had to keep steady to finish the work.” Prior to the boreholes, women needed to pull the rough plaited ropes, 130 to 200 feet in length, which would often cut their hands. However, the installation of the water pumps made it easier. Women now have more time to spend with their families, girls are able to attend school, and Chief Saidou Abdou even says the boreholes brought peace to the village.
Before, disputes would break out in line at the well, and villagers would quarrel over the water. But now, they no longer have this problem. “If you could see this village as it was five years ago, you’d realize how much our community has changed,” says Chief Abdou. “No other [non-governmental organization] came to our village, so World Vision was a God-sent presence to us, as they came here to help.”
‘Drink to quench our thirst’
The health and well-being of the Zakara Hanou villagers has improved significantly since they got access to clean, safe water. “The well water was smelly and unclear,” says Chief Saidou Abdou. “When we used to drink it, we were always sick, and our children had stomach problems.” And how have things changed? “The water that we pump out today is crystal clear, it tastes good, and you don’t even have to put it through a sieve to take out insects and dirt. Now we can drink to quench our thirst,” he says. “Many children in our village were sick with [trachoma],” adds Harouna, Chief Abdou’s wife, “but now that water is clean, we don’t have problems anymore.”