Celebrating 15 Years of Saving Lives with Safe Water

On Sunday, October 1st, Wells Bring Hope’s founder and president Barbara Goldberg welcomed over 150 guests to the home of Sukey and Gil Garcetti for the organization’s 15th Annual Fundraiser. The theme was “Back to the ‘60s” and featured music by DJ Raul Zavala and decor that set a mood that was upbeat and FUN! With perfect weather, guests turned out in verging on outrageous outfits right out of ‘60s!

Guests nibbled on delicious food from Edible 360: coconut shrimp, poke style ahi on a wanton crisp, crab cakes, flank steak skewers and more. There were featured drinks, named after famous 60’s entertainers, like Joplin’s Juice, Exclusively Elvis, and Stevie’s Wonder and wine donated by Le Vigne Winery.

While everyone mixed and mingled, our very capable volunteers enticed guests to participate in the silent auction, tempting them with trips to San Diego, San Francisco, and a four-hour sail along the Coast.  Our numerous restaurants, including dining at the Polo Lounge, Musso & Frank, Cassia and more went for over full value!

With many newcomers in attendance, Founder and President, Barbara Goldberg told guests about our cause and what makes it worthy of their support. Barbara then recognized some very special guests who worked hard in support of WBH this past year—James Thompson who walked around Oahu to raise money for us and a team of four amazing high schoolers—Mackenzie Nelson, Bronwyn Vance, Ben Nelson, and Adam Neiberger who raised over $30,000 for WBH in just a few months! Our honoree this year was Gil Garcetti, who inspired the start of Wells Bring Hope. His artwork, “Chief’s Hands & Baby’s Feet” was the basis for a special NFT package that was featured in our Live Auction.

During the live auction, guests got the chance to bid on some exciting travel packages including trips to Belize, Punta Mita, and Montenegro. Special thanks to auctioneer extraordinaire, Clint Hufft, who made parting with one’s money a fun-time for all!

Thanks to all who came to support our effort to save lives with safe water, particularly our hard-working Board of Directors! Special thanks to Board members, Eduardo Robles and David Girard who went above and beyond to make this event a success. Eduardo is a professional special events planner who made this event happen.  We also want to thank our very incredible volunteers without whom the event would not be possible and of course, our photographer Tatsu, who captured it all!

World Bank Announces $230 Million for Education in Niger

By Will Beeker

Pic: Source

In June, the World Bank approved an additional $230 million for Niger’s Learning Improvements for Results in Education (LIRE) project, bringing total funding to $370 million since the project’s inception. The funds will be used to build sustainable classrooms as well as girls-only boarding schools, with the aim of improving retention rates and closing the educational gender gap. The money will also be used to bolster educational planning and management in Niger over a six-year period.

The considerable funds come at a much-needed time, as the adult literacy rate in Niger was just 37% as of 2021. In every country across the Sahel, fewer than 50% of adult females are literate. Only 12% of children are enrolled in school and can read adequately for their age level. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated underlying problems in education systems across the world and many countries, Niger included, have not managed to fully recover. These funds will help the country make up lost ground.


Pic: Source

What is the LIRE project?

In June 2021, Niger’s government teamed up with the World Bank to launch the LIRE project in Niamey. The project initially received $140 million in funding, so the additional $230 million is a significant increase. The financial assistance comes from the International Development Association, a World Bank fund that provides grants and loans for projects in the world’s poorest countries.

The LIRE project has five components:

1) Improving teaching practices

2) Promoting learning for girls and boys

3) Strengthening the management capacities of the education system

4) Handling the administration and coordination of the project

5) Funding responses to emergencies and unforeseen events

Pic: Source

What will be done with the new funding?

The additional funds will primarily be used to build permanent schoolhouses. Building durable structures is important because many classrooms in Niger are made from straw and need to be disassembled during the rainy season. They are susceptible to fires during the dry season, making them dangerous for students and putting in jeopardy the availability of primary education for many. The project will work in coordination with the “zero class straw hut” program started by the Nigerien government last fall to provide safe, reliable places for students to learn.

In addition to upgrading school structures, improving access to clean drinking water is a vital part of boosting retention rates in schools across Niger, especially for young women who often miss school in order to help their mothers retrieve water for the family. Ultimately, the availability of clean water and educational access go hand in hand; investments in clean water are also investments in education.













Niger and Climatic Migration

By Manvitha Prasad Kathula

Source: NigerTZai

Climate change is more than just hotter summers and colder winters. It often leads to mass migration – where people are forced to leave their homes behind as their environment becomes increasingly inhospitable.

In Niger and most of Sub-Saharan Africa, rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, and a significant increase in the population have caused a scarcity of water and other vital resources (like wood) that are necessary for survival. This insufficiency leads to overwhelming competition between groups of people in rural areas, affecting farming and cultivation. The effects of climate change also decrease the likelihood of personal growth in these areas, as people primarily practice agriculture in these regions.

All these factors have contributed to a significant increase in rural-urban migration. According to the United Nations International Organization for Migration, Niger will generate more than 5 million internal migrants by 2050.

Ganso Seniali, a chief of a group of herders from the Tillabéri Region in Niger, recalls how he and most of his village were forced to move to the outskirts of the capital, Niamey. As he states, “The drought where we are originally from has increased conflict between us and sedentary farmers who are sort of fighting over similar resources of land and water, where we want to graze, but the farmers want to grow crops. This sometimes has led to deadly battles, you know, fought with guns, arrows, and machetes.” Although the move was hard on the people and their livestock, after settling in, they continued their normal activities but in an urban setting.

He also reports that life is a little easier in the city. Firstly, there appears to be no severe conflict for resources between people. It is easier for internal migrants to sell their dairy products and receive veterinary care for their herds. He further adds, “We take our cows out in the mornings to graze on the edge of the city where there is a bit of grazing space on the outskirts, and we find extra food for our goats by knocking on doors in town and taking the vegetable scraps that people might otherwise throw out.” Furthermore, the city also provides different job opportunities, enabling Tillabéri migrants to earn more money to take care of their families.

Climate change’s impact on Niger’s environment leads to internal migration. Although migration is disruptive and unwelcome, Nigeriens are modifying and transforming their lives to ensure a better present and future for themselves and the ecosystem. By drilling deep wells, Wells Bring Hope helps alleviate water scarcity, one element of climate change that leads to migration.


https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QWiQDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=niger+and+climate+migration&ots=c-D ozwEeAr&sig=LgIV0dkkSTTnQEavkXSQkDGwiek#v=onepage&q=niger%20and%20climate%20migration&f=false



Water Scarcity and Malnutrition: An Interconnected Challenge

By Tawanda Mukwekwezeke

The global issues of water scarcity and malnutrition are closely intertwined. An exploration of this complex relationship reveals how lack of access to clean water perpetuates the cycle of hunger and poor health. In regions without reliable access to safe drinking water, people often suffer and die from preventable illnesses that can be eliminated by access to clean water.

Did you know that almost two-thirds of the world’s population, a staggering four billion people, experience severe water scarcity for at least one month every year? It’s like being stuck in a never-ending line just to get a sip of water. It’s difficult to imagine how challenging life can be when something as basic as water is in such short supply. Inadequate water supply affects over two billion people in various countries worldwide. Half of the world’s population could be living in areas with water scarcity by 2025.

Water Plays a Critical Role in Malnutrition

Lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities have a significant impact on malnutrition, particularly in developing nations like Niger. Niger, along with two other central Sahel nations, is listed among the 15 countries hardest hit by an unprecedented global food and nutrition crisis, according to UN agencies. These agencies have warned that faster progress is needed to tackle acute malnutrition among children.

When people don’t have access to safe water, they are often forced to use contaminated sources for drinking and cooking, which leads to a higher risk of waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera, both of which reduce nutrient absorption in the body. Unsafe water also affects hygiene and food preparation practices, as hands can’t be washed properly before handling food or caring for children, and food and utensils can’t be thoroughly cleaned, which increases the risk of infection.

As Manuel Fontaine, the Director of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF put it: “No matter how much food a malnourished child eats, he or she will not get better if the water they are drinking is not safe.” This statement highlights the critical role of safe drinking water in reducing malnutrition and improving child health in developing nations like Niger.

Source : Jane Miller/DFID

Let’s Wear Nigerien Shoes a Bit

Picture this: Niger is among the countries suffering the most from water scarcity. The lack of access to safe and clean water has far-reaching consequences. It not only affects nutrition, but it also hampers education and economic development. Furthermore, the lack of nearby safe water sources means that girls and women in Niger often have to walk for hours each day to fetch water for their families. This not only puts a tremendous strain on their physical health and well-being, but it also means that they are unable to attend school or engage in income-generating activities, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty and deprivation. The impact of water scarcity on education and economic development is just one aspect of the far-reaching consequences of the lack of access to safe and clean water in Niger and other countries.

Wells Bring Hope Is Tackling some of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their sixth, Clean Water and Sanitation goes hand and hand with Wells Bring Hope’s mission. This UN Goal states: “Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in.” Like the UN, Wells Bring Hope recognizes the far-reaching impact water scarcity has on health, nutrition, education, economic development, and happiness. We’re working hard to bring hope to communities in need and changing lives for the better.

Wells Bring Hope’s work in Niger supports multiple SDG goals. By providing safe and clean water, we contribute to SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Our focus on gender equality aligns with SDG 5.

Source : Wikimedia






Transforming Schools, Transforming Futures

By Kayleigh Redmond and Kayla Ruff

In 2021, 21 Nigerien children died when their school, which was made of straw, caught on fire.
Not only were these straw buildings deemed physically unsafe, they were also considered to be
unsuitable for students’ growth and development. Now, more than ever it is imperative for
children to have a structured environment in which they can learn the skills necessary for life in
the modern technological world.

Nearly two years after the fire, the Pays-Bas school in Niamey reopened to 1,800 students. now
with additional amenities that offer a chance to gain a wide variety of digital skills. The UN
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – along with the Nigerien government, members of the community,
and other global partners – has completely rebuilt and modernized the classrooms to allow for
a more tech-forward education.
The renovated educational center provides a safe space for students and community members
to learn digital skills like computer graphics, social media management, cybersecurity, and 3D
printing. Innovative solutions like this will be critical to increasing enrollment and graduation
rates of students in Niger and for preparing graduates to enter the modern workforce.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United
Nations Sustainable Development Group, recently visited the newly renovated school.
According to Amina Mohammaed, “École Pays-Bas serves as a model for what can be achieved
when key actors come together to support the government in promoting creative and bold
approaches to ensure all children have access to a safe learning environment which prepare
them for the future.” Mohammed added that providing a safe and high-quality education to
Nigerien students requires much more than infrastructure and equipment. “It requires
enhanced curricula, sufficient teachers with enhanced skills, school health and nutrition in
schools including school meals”, she said at the site visit.

Source : Pencil for Kids

After the success of Pays-Bas, the Nigerien government is eager to upgrade schools country-
wide. With nearly 36,000 straw classrooms still remaining, replacing them with more updated
amenities will require a lot of resources. Increasing school enrollment and improving the quality
of education in Niger is not an easy task, and it requires a holistic approach and cooperation
among a wide range of people and organizations, each playing their part.
Wells Bring Hope, for example, plays an integral role in increasing the number of children
enrolled in school in Niger. When wells are drilled, girls no longer have to walk multiple miles
each day to find water, giving them time to go to school. Some parents remain hesitant to
enroll their children in school, however, due to safety concerns such as fire risks from straw-
built classrooms. Transforming these classrooms into safe and durable learning spaces will
reduce the risk of school fires, thus potentially increasing student enrollment. The project at the
École Pays-Bas school is just one example of the extraordinary impacts that can be made in
communities when the government and NGOs work together.



Launch of the BIOFIN Initiative Brings Hope for a Sustainable Future in Niger

By Kayla Ruff

Source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) was officially launched in Niger on March 22, 2023. BIOFIN is a global partnership launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Commission, and the initiative works to measure existing biodiversity expenditure levels, assess future financial needs, and design plans that will improve the efficiency of biodiversity management plans. By increasing funds and resources toward biodiversity preservation in Niger, BIOFIN could play a key role in conserving the nation’s biological diversity.

About 21 million acres or 6% of Niger’s land area is protected; however, over 70% of these protected areas have lost substantial portions of their biological diversity. Three of the protected sites, W National Park, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves, are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These areas are among the most important regions in the Sahara for wildlife, as they are some of the last remaining habitats for a variety of threatened desert species. They are some of the most biologically diverse communities remaining in the Sahara and are home to the critically endangered addax and dama gazelle, the Saharan cheetah, and Barbary sheep. The dama gazelle is a critically endangered species that has become a national symbol for Niger.

Niger is home to over 1,400 plant species, more than 500 species of birds, and over 150 species of reptiles and amphibians. The country is also home to over 130 mammal species, one of which is the endangered West African giraffe. Once ranging from Senegal to Cameroon, there are now only about 600 West African giraffes left in the wild, and their populations are confined to just a small part of western Niger.

Preserving species like the West African giraffe and the dama gazelle is not easy, however. BIOFIN estimates that preserving biodiversity worldwide will require between 599 and 824 billion U.S. dollars, but at present, only 143 billion dollars are invested per year. The funding required for Niger’s biodiversity initiatives is unclear but will be evaluated.

The BIOFIN Niger program could help alleviate the financial burden that often prevents Niger’s biodiversity from being preserved. The BIOFIN process aims to improve budget planning, identify specific financial needs, develop and implement a range of financing solutions, and determine the baseline level of biodiversity-related spending for the country while tracking biodiversity in budgets. BIOFIN’s activities will also be conducted in close collaboration with other partners, including the Executive Secretariat of the National Environment Council for Sustainable Development (CNEDD) of Niger and the Capacities for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development (CEBioS) program of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

While preserving Niger’s biodiversity is a difficult task that requires a multi-faceted approach, the launch of the BIOFIN initiative is a positive step towards a sustainable future.

West African Giraffe | African Wildlife Foundation (awf.org)

Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) | United Nations Development Programme (undp.org)

BIOFIN | United Nations Development Programme (undp.org)

Niger | African Wildlife Foundation (awf.org)

Niger becomes the 41st country to join BIOFIN | BIOFIN

Official launch of the BIOFIN initiative in Niger | BIOFIN

African Drone and Data Academy Empowers Nigerien Youth

By Amber Persson

Imagine that a mother of five in rural Niger suddenly develops a fever, headache, and nausea; the diagnosis—malaria. She must receive treatment as soon as possible before the swift-acting disease develops further. Unfortunately, her community is largely inaccessible by road, and there are no hospitals in the vicinity. It could take several days before she is able to receive the anti-malarial medication she needs. A new program aims to address this life-threatening challenge.

Drones Can Provide a Solution for Remote Communities

In 2016, UNICEF proposed using drones to transport medications, vaccines, and diagnostic biological samples to solve health crises like this one. A drone is able to deliver lifesaving medications in hours as opposed to days or weeks. For this mother, a few days could mean the difference between recovery and fatality.


Source: Wilson Oluoha Wikimedia Commons

Drones were first used in Malawi to assist with the HIV testing of infants by transporting blood samples from remote communities directly to laboratories. The initiative was soon expanded to Vanuatu, a country in the South Pacific, where vaccines were effectively distributed using drones. Before this project, 20% of children in Vanuatu were unable to access vaccines because of the country’s 1300 km of mountainous terrain and limited healthcare infrastructure. Vaccines were often delivered on foot in coolers, a journey that can take several days. The drones made the journey in a mere 25 minutes.

Drones have also been employed for surveillance of areas affected by natural disasters. They can easily assess the extent of flooding and damage, identify communities most in need, and be used for search and rescue purposes.

As powerful as drones can be, they require training to operate and maintain, and the data they collect must then be analyzed. This is a challenge in disadvantaged communities that lack the capacity to build and support such an initiative.

This is why the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) was created. ADDA is a global initiative spearheaded by UNICEF that aims to increase the accessibility of health-related materials and diagnostic testing by training drone operators. Potential pilots take three courses over 11 weeks in which they learn drone basics, planning, and data logistics. Through these courses, pilots gain valuable hands-on experience tailored to the Global South.


Source: Anouk Delafortrie

African Drone and Data Academy in Niger

ADDA was recently adopted in Niger with the support of the Nigerien government. In collaboration with Virginia Tech University, the curriculum was translated to French so it could be taught in the Sahel region. After preparing five Nigerien drone instructors, the first class of 24 youth graduated the ADDA training program in 2022. 60% of the students in this class were women.

ADDA encourages young people to get excited about helping their community. It also provides a clear employment path that culminates in a remote pilot license, which would otherwise be reserved for more privileged individuals. Addressing the drone piloting skills gap enables young people to obtain well-paid jobs, boost local economies, and contribute to something greater than themselves.

The safe local wells that Wells Bring Hope drills enable more girls and women to attend school and contribute to their communities in a bigger way, maybe one day by piloting a drone.






Donor Appreciation Brunch

On Sunday, May 21st, some of Wells Bring Hope’s most loyal L.A.-based supporters gathered at the home of WBH president and founder Barbara Goldberg for a donor appreciation brunch. It was a glorious sunny day as we gathered in her Japanese garden.

Guests sipped mimosas and bloody marys while enjoying delicious bagels (courtesy of Western Bagel) with cream cheese and smoked salmon. There were also plenty of pastries to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and a delicious watermelon salad, courtesy of board members David Girard and Eduardo Robles.


We had an incredible group of volunteers – eight scholars and two teachers from Odyssey STEM Academy in Lakewood. They helped set up, greeted guests and ensured that the event went off without a hitch. Angel, one of the amazing student volunteers, is responsible for all of these photos! If you would like a copy of any of these photos, please email kate@wellsbringhope.org.

Once guests had a chance to mix, mingle, eat and drink, Barbara formally welcomed them and expressed our deep appreciation for their support of Wells Bring Hope, especially those who had been with us since the very beginning. She also introduced WBH’s valued board members.

Barbara announced that we are only about $20,000 away from hitting the six million dollar milestone raised since we started in 2008. She also asked everyone to mark their calendars for our 15th anniversary fundraiser, which will be held on October 1st at the home of Sukey and Gil Garcetti, the man who inspired our cause and this year’s honoree.

Finally, Director of Operations Kate Cusimano introduced four recent graduates of our Ambassadors Program who have been working hard to apply what they learned to help save lives with safe water in Niger.

Siblings Mackenzie and Ben Nelson along with their friends Bronwyn Vance and Adam Neiberger, formed a group called H2O (Help to Others), and have dedicated themselves to water causes. Back in March, they set a goal of raising funds for four wells ($25,200). When they exceeded that amount this month, they raised their goal to six wells! We are so incredibly grateful for these generous, hard-working global citizens and all of our amazing donors!

Water Access Can Reduce Violence

By Will Beeker

Source: Wells Bring Hope

Access to clean drinking water in Niger provides numerous benefits, one of which is a reduction in violence in its many forms.

Studies have shown a connection between water scarcity and violence in the Sahel region of Africa, but also anywhere there is limited access to clean water. Even small variability in rainfall is linked with an increase in violence in the region and some even claim that much of the violence in and around Niger can be attributed to water scarcity-induced migration.

How does water scarcity lead to violence?

There are many forms of violence that can stem from a lack of access to clean water:

  • Competition for access to water supplies can lead to violence between farmers and herders, sometimes involving national militaries and police forces.
  • Water scarcity hinders economic and social development, which can lead to radicalization and its associated violence.
  • Women are forced to make long journeys many miles from their homes to fetch water, which can put them at risk of gender-based violence.
  • Villagers may have to travel through militarized zones where fighting occurs to reach a water point.
  • Migrants fleeing violence put extra strain on already limited water supplies, which can lead to tension and conflict with hosting communities.

As Hycinth Banseka, the technical director for the Lake Chad Basin Commission, has put it: “Escalating impacts of climate change and water scarcity are likely to provoke more conflict if water access isn’t improved for the different communities. We need to develop strategies to ensure that wherever people live, they have access to the water that they need allowing them to develop their economic activities and maintain their communal organizations and ties.”

Any time groups are forced to compete for limited natural resources, there’s bound to be conflict. However, the correlation goes both ways: when there is greater access to water, there’s bound to be less conflict.

How can water security reduce violence?

  • As water access becomes more widespread, farmers and herders have less need to fight over limited water supplies.
  • Water security, and the economic and social development associated with it, reduce radicalization, meaning people will be less likely to join violent militant groups.
  • Water security can reduce the distance women and children need to travel to fetch clean drinking water, making them less vulnerable to attack.
  • When wells are drilled in the villages that need them, they are less susceptible to control by a hostile outside group and villagers can avoid dangerous areas.
  • Water security allows safe havens to support more migrants, helping them respond to the greater need for water.

The borewells drilled by Wells Bring Hope equip villages with a safe, local source of clean drinking water, improving water security and reducing violence in all the above-mentioned ways. Villagers become safer and healthier, and in turn the whole region benefits.












Secretary Blinken Makes Historic Visit to Niger

By Will Beeker

Source: Secretary of State meets Nigerien authorities

In March, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a historic visit to Niger during which he praised the country for upholding democracy as neighboring countries have fallen prey to coups and political upheaval. This is the first time in history that a U.S. Secretary of State has visited Niger, signaling the growing importance of the Sahel in global politics. Blinken’s visit and remarks also underscore the fact that Niger is one of few regional success stories since its transition to democracy in 2011.

“Niger is a young democracy in a challenging part of the world, but it remains true to the democratic values we share. And Niger has been quick to defend the democratic values under threat in neighboring countries,” Blinken said while in Niger’s capital, Niamey, after meeting with President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger’s Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou said Blinken’s historic visit showed “solidarity and consideration” for Niger, while emphasizing his country’s responsibility as a democratic bulwark in a troubled region, saying: “We need to show that democracy is the only way to defeat terrorism.”

Blinken’s visit comes over a year into the Ukraine war during which Russia’s influence in the Sahel has grown. Mali’s junta has hired mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group to combat insurgents there. Ghana reports that Burkina Faso has also employed the Wagner Group; Burkina Faso has declined to comment on the claim. Blinken said the use of Russian mercenaries has not proven to be an effective response to extremism. “It’s not just we know this is going to end badly, we’ve already seen it end badly in a number of places,” Blinken said.

Blinken also pledged $150 million in humanitarian aid for Niger and other countries in the Sahel, bringing the U.S. aid total for the region to $233 million in the 2023 fiscal year. Blinken said the humanitarian support “provides urgent, life-saving support, including food, shelter, safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and other key services.”

During his visit, Blinken also met former violent extremists from Niger’s conflict zones who have been rehabilitated through vocational training backed by $20 million in U.S. funding. The program, called the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, and Reconciliation (DDRR) program is dedicated to “helping to give people livelihoods, and in effect giving them a better choice than falling into violent extremism” and is “from our perspective, very much a model that others can look to,” Blinken said afterwards.

Overall, Blinken’s visit highlights the significance of Niger’s successes in recent years. There is much responsibility placed on the growing nation to uphold democratic values and provide a guiding light to a struggling region.