Tuareg Guitar Sensation Mdou Moctar Partners with Wells Bring Hope

By Ankita Taneja

The most innovative artist in contemporary Saharan music, Mdou Moctar, is a Nigerien musician with an international reputation. He has gained immense popularity and love for his modern adaptations of Tuareg guitar music and his songs of revolution. We are excited to announce a new partnership with Mdou Moctar and his band! Mdou, who is currently based in the city of Agadez, is committed to increasing both awareness of the need for safe water and funding to drill wells in his home country. For all upcoming shows, tote bags featuring the band’s logo as well as Wells Bring Hope’s will be on sale, and all proceeds will go directly to WBH to drill wells in rural villages across Niger.

Source: Rafael Ojea Perez

The musical journey of Mdou Moctar is infused with intriguing facts. The most heartwarming anecdote of his journey, as described in one of his interviews with Rolling Stone, is the way he has kick-started his career in music by practicing on a homemade guitar that he made with wood and bicycle parts. Moctar’s music traveled across West Africa via the trading network of cellphones and memory cards. His debut album, Anar, was also included in the compilation “Music from Saharan Cellphone.” After this, he gained international attention for playing the guitar in takamba and assouf styles. In 2019, Mdou Moctar released Ilana (The Creator), his first studio album, and in 2021, one of his songs ended up on President Obama’s year-end list of his favorite music.

He grew up listening to Tuareg guitar legends, but it wasn’t until on a musical tour that he discovered the genre. “I have no concept what rock is,” he claims, adding, “I only know how to play in my way.” His songs revolve around the themes of love, politics, and revolution. With music, words, and good intention, he is dedicated to promoting the youth of his region. “I know what it’s like to have been in that position,” he says, “to not have the support of your family or the money for guitars or strings, it’s really hard. I have a lot of support from the younger generation because I help them out a lot. When I get back from tour, I give them gear that I bought while I was away so they can go out and form their own bands.” Indeed, his passion for music, Tuareg guitar, and the desire to promote change, love, and music for the people of Niger have made him a celebrated creator.

Source: Daniel M. Sampaio

What makes Mdou Moctar stand apart are the ideas in his music. He cares for the people of Niger and understands the problems of his home place. He sings for Niger, and to Niger. With his musical revolution and international stage presence, he has contributed to bringing the spirits of Nigerien communities to the West.

He’s generously donating to Wells Bring Hope and his partnership helps more Nigeriens access clean water.

He toured the US and Canada in March and will be performing in Europe and the UK after that.
Click here (Tour — Mdou Moctar) to get more information regarding his tour.








The Significance of Niger’s Flame of Peace Holiday

By Brenda Enfua

Source: Wells Bring Hope

I often like to flip through my calendar and mark any holiday I can find as a reminder to celebrate. There are multiple holidays recognized in Niger including New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, and Labor Day, but one that deserves special attention is Concord Day, which takes place every year on April 24th.

Concord Day commemorates a peace agreement between the Nigerien government and the rebel Tuareg groups that was signed on April 24, 1995. The agreement marked the beginning of the end of armed conflict that had developed due to extreme famine and an economic crisis that changed the migratory routes of nomadic tribes, bringing them into conflict with one another.

Although April 24, 1995, marked the official beginning of peaceful times, the fighting did not officially end until 1999 when the last rebel group signed the accord. All of this culminated in a huge celebration on September 25, 2000, which was known as the “Flame of Peace.” This event centered around the mass burning of weapons to officially celebrate peace after many years of unrest within the country.

Today, Concord Day is a public holiday, so businesses and government offices close for the day. Concord Day festivities include lively street celebrations, youth-centered activities, and speeches by the president and various other leaders and politicians.

It is easy to get caught up in the festivities and overlook the true meaning of holidays, but it is imperative to recognize and understand the reason for the celebration. This is particularly true for holidays like Concord Day, which remind us, today more than ever, how fragile peace can be.

Source: Wells Bring Hope





Niger Eradicates River Blindness

By Adhithi Sreenivasan

Niger has recently made great strides in the realm of public health by becoming the first African nation to eliminate river blindness.

River blindness is a disease that has plagued West African nations and other regions throughout the continent. Known formally as Onchocerciasis, the ailment is the result of a parasitic worm, Onchocerca volvulus, that makes its way into the human body when infected blackflies bite people who live near fast-moving bodies of water, and the plague of river blindness has long threatened communities living along the Niger River.

After a person is bitten by infected blackflies, tiny larvae travel throughout the body to affect the skin, eyes, and organs. Unfortunately, infected humans often experience lesions in the eyes that cause vision loss and blindness as well as debilitating skin conditions.

Source: National Museum of Health and Medicine

The impressive accomplishment of eliminating this heartbreaking disease occurred through the efforts of the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, a financial partnership of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the END Fund.

Their combined financial support helped propel the disease’s eradication. For years, Niger has employed methods like helicopter and ground spraying to combat the numbers of blackflies in the affected regions. Additionally, the drug Ivermectin, which is a popular treatment for river blindness, has been distributed by campaigns with companies like Merck since the 1980s and has aided in the process of eradication.

Now, thanks to an influx of financial support for long-term control efforts, the disease is finally gone in Niger. The next steps for Niger to officially announce eradication will be to complete paperwork for verification so that the World Health Organization can declare the impressive feat.

Eliminating river blindness in Niger will mean increased economic prosperity. Families living in affected areas will be healthier, so they are freed to work and pursue an education. The fertile lands near the Niger River can once again be used for farming, reducing food insecurity. With the public health dangers that stemmed from the disease no longer threatening Nigerien citizens, brighter days lie ahead for the country.







Surviving the Pandemic: Microfinance Training for Women

By Amber Persson

The COVID-19 pandemic has devasted countries across the world but has also led to an increased sense of community and compassion between people. In countries like Niger, community-building can help families survive the ongoing pandemic. One such community-building activity is the creation of women’s savings groups, which help families persevere amidst the grave uncertainty we are all facing.

A wonderful thing can happen when women and girls no longer have to walk miles to collect freshwater because a new well has been drilled: they are given the gift of time. With their extra time, many women and girls choose to become involved in women’s savings groups as an opportunity to become more financially independent. Typically, women’s saving groups consist of about 15-25 women in a village who pool a small amount of savings each week that other women in the group can borrow and payback. As part of the program, women are often taught income-generating tasks like making biscuits or sewing in addition to learning the basic math skills they need to manage their money.

A savings group in Niamey where women were taught how to make and sell millet cakes and peanut oil.

Source: Wells Bring Hope

The culture of borrowing and paying back money through a women’s savings group allows many mothers to pay tuition and fees for their children’s education and with time, they are able to become financially independent through their small businesses. It gives families a sense of financial stability, even during the pandemic.

A savings group in Chadakori where women were taught how to make food out of Acacia seeds.

Source: Wells Bring Hope

The families of women involved in savings groups are more likely to cope better with the pandemic and less likely to face food insecurity than those who are not involved. Microfinancing also boosts the sense of morale and community outside of the savings groups. Near the beginning of the pandemic, one savings group led by Aïchatou Cheitou took their sewing efforts to produce and sell over 10,000 masks for residents of Niger. They also produced soap and ointments that were distributed among the members of the group.

Efforts like these have helped many Nigerien families survive the pandemic and hopefully, their communities will emerge stronger because of it.








How Niger’s Agricultural Industry Is Fighting Back Against Climate Change

By Amber Nicolai

Source: Stephan Gladieu / World Bank

Over 80% of Nigeriens depend on agriculture for their livelihood—a livelihood that is being severely threatened by climate change. An arid country to begin with, Niger is far from ideal for raising crops or livestock. And now it’s facing the additional challenges that climate change brings about, such as:


  • Soaring temperatures
  • Erratic rainfall patterns which lead to increased drought and flooding
  • Drying of rivers and other water sources
  • Poor soil quality due to erosion


All of this means unstable food and water supplies for residents of Niger as well as unreliable income for those who make their living from farming and herding. The scarcity of resources often leads to violence and displacement, creating even more hardship for those who live in the country.

Niger Is Resilient

Fortunately, even with all the difficulties intensified by climate change, Niger’s people are resilient and are constantly working to stay ahead of the potentially devastating effects of global warming. Local community organizations plus various nonprofit groups are strengthening Niger’s resilience in a number of ways:


  • Climate Smart Agriculture Practices: utilizing drought resistant seeds and fertilizers, plus implementing micro-irrigation and solar-powered drip irrigation systems that increase crop return by up to 40% while reducing water use
  • Creating Food Stores: Filling warehouses with non-perishables like cereals and grains and building small dairy processing facilities so communities have more resources when food is scarce
  • Diversifying Income: training people, especially women, to run small businesses such as creating and selling crafts or trading small goods at market to decrease reliance on agricultural income
  • Education/Empowerment: teaching Nigeriens about climate smart practices and providing the resources needed to fight climate change
  • Access to Clean Water: Wells Bring Hope and others drill wells to provide access to clean water for drinking and hygiene


Nigeriens continue to learn and implement climate smart practices, helping to build a brighter future for themselves. By working together to fight climate change, Nigerien communities provide an inspiring example of how progress can be achieved.



Building climate change resilience in Niger to keep hunger away


Niger: Fertile Ground for Resilience

Solar-powered irrigation: A solution to water management in agriculture?

Wells Bring Hope: What We Do









Cure Salée: Festival of the Nomadic Herders

By Amber Persson

Source: Wikimedia

The small Saharan desert town of Ingall is lit up with an explosion of color and culture when thousands of nomadic herders from the Tuareg and Wodaabé clans come together in celebration of their traditions for Niger’s annual Cure Salée festival. The festival symbolizes the end of Niger’s rainy season, usually at the end of September, and the culture of Nigerien pastoralists. It is a time and space for meeting friends, exchanging news, music, and reinforcing traditions.

Importance of the Cure Salée Festival

The Cure Salée Festival is one of few times a year where pastoralists can relax and mingle mainly because of their difficult living conditions. Clans such as the Tuareg and Wodaabé face problems such as lack of work, water, and land. Historically, Nigerien policymakers have paid little attention to the clans’ needs. The lands of Niger can also be dangerous at times due to terrorism, riots, and human trafficking. The town of Ingall is deep in the Sahara and far away from the commotion of the rest of the country, allowing the festival to be safer and more joyous than if it was in another location.

In recent years, the Nigerien government has supported the Cure Salée Festival by making it a tourist attraction for Western visitors sponsored by brands like Coca-Cola. On one hand, it does create social cohesion in Niger and brings attention to Nigerien culture. On another hand, this has allowed the government to put an end to certain nomadic traditions that the rest of Niger does not practice. Organizations like UNICEF are also present in order to increase vaccination and promote health education. Outside involvements may upset some nomads because the festival may have strayed away from being a simple celebration of nomadic herders’ culture and has now become more of a spectacle.

Music and Dancing

At the festival, electric guitar riffs and DJs can be heard starting from the early evening and going throughout the night. The music attracts many young people to dance under the stars, wearing their colorful robes and headscarf (boys) or veils (girls). There is no alcohol at the festival, but street vendors can be found selling cigarettes and cola amidst the crowd.

The festival is a great time to meet a potential spouse! It is believed the festival is key to courting and meeting one’s future betrothed. There are certain dances such as the Yaake dance Wodaabé men perform to show off their beauty, charm, and elegance. It is similar to a beauty contest. Women watch the men and score them based on their beauty as they dance, sometimes all night long!

Wells Bring Hope

One of the hardships that nomadic herders face is difficulty finding safe water, or water at all, in such an arid environment. Wells Bring Hope drills wells that will increase accessibility to safe water for communities in Niger. In doing so, the quality of life and health is improved for all Nigeriens and will continue to improve with every new well.










By William Beeker

Source: Wells Bring Hope

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many systemic problems in societies around the world, but maybe none so clearly as those in our education systems. Here in the US, adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic was difficult, but manageable. Many schools were able to implement some form of online learning because things like computers, cell phones, and internet access are nearly ubiquitous here. Remote learning had its downsides, but overall, we fared better than many countries.

In Niger, the arrival of the pandemic meant 3.7 million students suddenly found their education put on hold with no clear end or alternative insight. A year and a half later, with students finally back in classrooms, Niger has the opportunity to reassess its educational system. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated longstanding problems in the educational system and made clear the norm was no longer acceptable.

With such a delicate education system, Niger and its international supporters had to go to great lengths to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. For example, Global Partnership Enterprises launched a grant to help bulwark Niger’s education system against the pandemic and improve its resilience in the long term. The program, which will end in December, includes providing thousands of handwashing kits to schools, distributing educational and refresher materials, training teachers at the primary level, and starting a school feeding program. Solutions like these provide a silver lining to what has otherwise been a harsh year and a half. They also identify key weaknesses in Niger’s education system that mostly preceded the pandemic:

  • Lack of running water makes sanitation difficult
  • Classrooms and students lack educational resources
  • Teachers are undertrained and too few
  • Hunger prohibits kids from attending class

Increased government spending and foreign aid have helped Niger make big gains in school enrollment and completion, but work will need to be done outside classrooms to make school more accessible for all Nigeriens.

Wells Bring Hope can play a crucial role by providing villages with running water, allowing for better hygiene and irrigation for farming, and giving villagers more robust, weather-proof sources of food. Both factors allow students to stay in class and keep schools open. When a well is drilled, girls and women no longer have to trek miles each day to fetch drinking water, and they are freed to attend school, helping to close the gender gap in education.

Additionally, the microfinance training Wells Bring Hope offers can give women a means to support themselves. When women have more freedom and autonomy within their communities, education becomes more feasible for the most vulnerable, and child marriages may be reduced. The silver lining in a massive disruption like the Covid-19 pandemic is the chance to see problems with a fresh perspective, explore new solutions, and find ways to move above and beyond the former status quo.







Women Musicians in Africa Open the Door for Important Conversations

By Amber Nicolai

Source: Koliou Noundou

In a time where much of the music coming out of the West seems to be about superficial subjects like dating, clubbing or living the high life, women-led musical groups across Africa are showing the world how powerful socially conscious music can be.

These talented musicians are producing everything from blues and soul to rap and hip-hop, combining old and new to make something completely fresh and exciting. Many of these musicians sing in their native tribal languages such as Zarma, Tamachek, and Hausa, which adds to the beauty of their songs.

These women musicians are showing people what women can do, serving as needed role models to girls and young women everywhere. Their songs, which shed light on both local and universal subjects, help raise awareness of important social issues that otherwise might not be addressed.

One such musical group, Les Amazones d’Afrique, whose members come from all over the continent, has found success singing songs that empower women and speak out against violence. Their work is as ear-catching as it is important, garnering praise from NPR, Rolling Stone, and Barack Obama.

Niger itself is home to many outstanding women musicians who sing about everything from love and religious life to women’s and children’s rights to public health issues and subverting colonialism. This article by Sarah Burgess does an excellent job of detailing four Nigerien groups you should be sure to check out – you’ll be glad you did.

Music has been used as a powerful tool for change for millennia, and in a world that needs empowered women more than ever, it’s refreshing to see such strong women take center stage.





13th Annual Fundraiser

On Sunday, October 17th, Wells Bring Hope’s founder and president Barbara Goldberg welcomed 75 fully-vaccinated supporters to her home for the organization’s 13th Annual Fundraiser. Inspired by Barbara’s beautiful home and serene backyard, the theme was “Sunday in a Japanese Garden.”

To carry out the theme, there was a dedicated sake bar, with guests sampling six sakes. The main bar featured a specialty cocktail, the Sakura, which means cherry blossom, in Japanese. Japanese calligrapher, Mimi Wada was on hand to design individual works of art for each guest, and the Japanese Music Ensemble entertained the crowd with classical Japanese melodies on koto and shamisen.

Guests nibbled on delicious Japanese fusion cuisine from TGIS Catering and sipped 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 Sedona, San Francisco, and New York, dining at Cassia and Vincenti, and more.

During the live auction later in the evening, guests got the chance to bid on more exciting travel packages including trips to Belize, Puerto Vallarta, Park City and the Florida Keys, as well as a wine-tasting getaway to Paso Robles and a relaxing spa stay in Palm Springs. Special thanks to auctioneer extraordinaire, Clint Hufft, who made parting with one’s money a fun-time for all! And no WBH event would be complete without Gil Garcetti, the man who inspired its start!

Barbara opened the program by announcing that, effective September 1, Wells Bring Hope has transitioned to solar-powered mechanized wells, which deliver clean water by simply turning on a tap.  By eliminating the need to use a hand pump to bring up water from a well, women are now free of this burdensome task. Importantly, getting water is no longer the responsibility of women and girls—everyone does it!

Thank you to all who came to support Wells Bring Hope’s effort to save lives with safe water! Thanks to our generous donors and our partners, Panda Restaurant Group, World Vision and Bliss Car Wash for their tremendous support. We also want to thank our very capable volunteers, our photographer Tatsu, and our event planner, Peggy Kelley of Timeless Celebrations who made the event a tremendous success! Thanks to this incredible team effort, 20 more villages in Niger will experience the transformative power of a safe water well.

See more photos and tag yourself on Facebook!

Striving to Do It Better

By Barbara Goldberg

In 2008, we set out to solve the water crisis in Niger, West Africa, to put an end to death and disease from contaminated water. We also wanted to put an end to women and girls as young as seven walking miles to get water. We’re doing that.

But there is something we couldn’t do then.

Let’s turn back the clock to January of 2009, our first trip to Niger. We saw villages without safe water and talked to women who lost children from contaminated water. Our hearts broke.

We also visited villages as wells were coming in, and we shared in that joy, but as I watched women laboriously use the hand pump to get water from the well, I winced. I thought, “Does it have to be this hard?”  A while later, I posed that question to Sam Jackson of World Vision, our partner in drilling wells. Is there an easier way to access water?

It was then that he told me about solar-powered, mechanized wells, big projects costing $50,000 and serving villages with populations of 2,000 or more. World Vision was beginning to implement these mechanized wells, which are markedly easier to use, but it wasn’t yet happening in Niger.

Sam said that if we wanted to learn more, we could be part of a project being done in Mali, right next door to Niger. With an investment of $25,000, we shared ownership of this project and were able to visit and learn more about these new water systems firsthand.

We talked to women who no longer had to pump up water—they simply turned on a tap. I spoke to a grandmother who was thankful that she didn’t have to depend on her grandchildren to get water for her. She experienced newfound independence, she said she no longer felt so old.

Source: Wells Bring Hope

I spoke to a woman who was thrilled that she could now send her children to get water for the family, including her sons. Providing water was no longer a job for women, scoring “points” for gender equality!

Source: Wells Bring Hope

At that time, these big water projects weren’t cost-effective for us, so we waited until technology caught up with the need. We, along with the women of Niger, have waited a long time for this technology to become cost-effective, and finally, it has! As of September 1, 2021, we are funding only solar-powered, mechanized wells that draw water to a tap stand where safe, clean water is accessible at a tap, or faucet, much as it is here. It is a joy to see the burden of Nigerien women eased in yet another way, to help make their work more bearable.

You can support our work by making a donation of any amount here.