Awa carries water home to her family. 51 year old Awa lives in Nafadji, home to a community whose lives used to be blighted by the erratic water supply. There were wells in the village, but they were prone to drying up in the hot season. This left the women and children, who were responsible for water collection, with the choice between buying water from vendors at exorbitant prices they could scarcely afford or queuing for hours on end at the nearest alternative water source, a 1.5km walk away. “If we collected the water ourselves we had to queue for a very long time – usually around one hour for a 20 litre bucket of water. Going back and forth collecting water would take all day. Sometimes we would go at night when the queues were less long.” says Awa.
On top of the availability problems of water, the community had to contend with the fact the water sources weren’t protected, leaving them open to contamination. Poor sanitation compounded the problem – pools of dirty water would stagnate in the street and the makeshift latrines would overflow, adding sewage to the stagnant pools. The inevitable result was widespread incidences of disease throughout the community, with the most vulnerable falling ill the most. Awa explained: “If a child fell ill it was normal because that is how we lived. It was not unusual for children to die. There was so much illness and everything was on the shoulders of women. There was so much stress which can lead to conflict.” However, life has turned around in Nafadji since the community worked with WaterAid’s partner Jigi to set up a reliable water supply in the village, clean up the village by building proper latrines and drainage and learn about safer hygiene behaviour.
Awa described the impact the new waterpoint has had on their lives: Awa at the new waterpoint. “Now we are free. Before we spent all day fetching water. Children used to get water and they didn’t have time for learning. Now they are at school. “They love going to school. We have time to do the housework, cleaning and also small business. Nafadji women can go out first thing in the morning to go to market and sell things. Some women sell vegetables: aubergines, cabbages and tomatoes and some make soap to sell. If women work, everything works. “I am training as a health worker. And some of my neighbours are training to take on other development roles. It is due to the development of the village there is lots of training and the whole village is so much more dynamic. We want to act. And the whole process of getting access to safe water and toilets has made us feel like more of a team. We have advanced very much.” More time to care Momo Niare from Nefadji, Bamako. Momo Niare says: “Before the project, we spent most of the time going to get water from (private) taps a long way away. Most of the wells here were dry, or else they were polluted. “There was a lot of diarrhoea and malaria, and water was too far away for older people to get to a well. Now there is so much more time for caring for the family and much less sickness.”