Fetching water from across the border
This month our country of focus is Niger, where World Vision’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program is working to improve the health and well-being of 350,000 rural community members by 2016. The following story was contributed by Dana Palade, World Vision.
Before World Vision built a water pump in her village of Garin Dan Dela, twelve-year old Maria had to cross the border between Niger and Nigeria just to fetch water every day.
“It was about five kilometers away,” recalls Maria. “I was not at ease knowing that I had to enter another country to get water. The people there mocked us saying that we came begging for their water. It was sad to hear, but what could we do? It was their country, and we needed their water.”
Maria remembers that she had to wake up before six o’clock each morning to fetch water. By the time she returned home carrying the water containers all the way from the Nigerian border, it was almost noon.
Maria’s biggest concern was not the fatigue, nor the pain she felt in her arms. “I feared that if I missed another morning in school, I’d soon be unable to catch up with my class,” says Maria. “I really didn’t like missing so much in school.”
In Maria’s village of Garin Dan Dela there is a local school – a modest thatched shelter that needs to be rebuilt after each summer vacation, as the sequence of rains, extreme heat and dusty winds that are specific of Niger’s harsh climate prove to be merciless for the fragile structure. In Maria’s class of 41 students, only 13 are girls, and only four of them will continue their education beyond the sixth grade. Household chores, or even early marriages, will be a higher priority than education.
Aware of this situation, the regional education board contacted World Vision to see if they could help. “It was an extremely unusual situation,” remembers Issaka Amadou, development agent for the Gobir Yamma ADP that includes the village of Garin Dan Dela. “Children from the village had to cross the border to fetch water, and because of this they were missing classes.”
Now, not only children, but all villagers enjoy the benefits of clean, safe water accessible at the water pump in their community. “Now that we have a with the water pump, even if I have to fetch water in the morning, it’s just few minutes away from home. I’m never late for school,” says Maria. She adds that other communities also treat them with more respect knowing that there is a water pump in Garin Dan Dela.
“The water tastes much better, it is clean and we’re never sick after drinking it. I have all the reasons to be happy for the new pump – now that I have more time, I can study more or help my parents with house chores.”
The presence of the water pump allowed villagers to think about more improvements for their community.
“I wish my village also had a proper school, a nice building, and maybe a health clinic too,” says Maria. “When you are not educated you understand very little of life and its meaning. I want to be educated to people will respect me.” She also dreams of continuing her education to help her family: “I see that women, who are teachers or nurses, have a stable income and their can support their parents. I want to be like them one day.”
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