It’s Hard to Imagine…

By Barbara Goldberg

Source: Wells Bring Hope

Since starting Wells Bring Hope 13 years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the impact of unsafe water in rural West Africa and how truly life-transforming clean water can be. Yet there was one thing I didn’t know until recently: many health clinics in rural Niger have no water at all. This means that women in labor have to carry their own water for their deliveries, and health care providers have no reliable way to wash their hands and instruments.

Both the lack of water and the unsanitary conditions of the health clinic made most women opt for giving birth at home in their village, putting both them and their babies at risk if there were complications.

Once again, we saw a simple problem with a simple solution but the solution required greater resources: $50,000 to provide water to a health clinic. Since a clinic can serve 5,000-10,000 people a year and provide safe water for everyone in the village where it is located, we considered this to be a worthwhile investment. Fortunately, many of our donors did too.

What makes this project so exciting is that the water system uses solar power to draw the water up to taps that are located in several places in the clinic – the exam room, the treatment room, and the delivery room. With enough water, both mothers and babies can be washed and made clean following delivery. Instruments and the delivery table can be cleaned between patients. The sanitary conditions are greatly improved and women feel safer coming to the health clinic.

Women who have delivered a baby at a clinic with clean water speak joyfully about what this means to them.  As one woman said, “When I gave birth to my third child, the health center had just been equipped with a pump. I was one of the first moms.  After giving birth, I was treated to a full bath. The acquisition of water restored our dignity.”

Source: Wells Bring Hope

In addition to providing safe water inside the clinic, these water systems make it possible to install a tap stand in a central location in the village, relieving women and girls of the arduous task of walking for water or even of having to manually draw the water up as they would with a handpump well. The ability to turn on a tap and instantly access safe, clean water is something we take for granted, but it is completely transformative for the people we serve in rural Niger.

We’ve funded and completed the construction of two water projects for health clinics and with your help, we’ll fund another one this year! To read more or donate:

The Long-Term Battle of Vitamin A Deficiency in Niger

With a special focus on women and children

By Amber Persson

Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), the main cause of mortality in children living in areas that are considered at-risk, affects 20-25% of children in Niger. Vitamin A must be acquired through diet and plays a pivotal role in the immune system and visual system. Vitamin A Deficiency can cause stunting of growth, anemia, blindness, and death in extreme cases.

While serious, VAD is entirely preventable. Since December 1998, organizations studying the impact of VAD (UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa and Helen Keller International) reported that vitamin A supplementation (VAS) in young children reduces their risk of premature death by 23%. An important component in fighting VAD is distributing Vitamin A supplements in capsules or fortifying the micronutrient in common food sources. Capsules have been distributed by organizations like Helen Keller International every 4-6 months in alliance with WHO guidelines.

Source: Ruth Fertig; Helen Keller International

The situation requires more than capsules, however, as that is a temporary solution. The best way to consistently increase Vitamin A uptake is through animal and plant products. Dairy products in particular are rich in many vitamins but are expensive and hard to come by in Niger. Vitamin A rich plant products such as carrots (which only 5% of Nigerien children eat) are difficult to access in a country that usually has only one harvest per year. In Niger, fortifying the micronutrient in common products like cooking oil helps Nigeriens gain access to it year-round.

There has been an increased effort to combat VAD in women of childbearing age and lactating mothers along with children in the past few years. Children obtain their nutrients from their mothers while in the womb and while breastfeeding. A malnourished mother can lead to a malnourished infant. Mothers also require extra nutrients and calories while pregnant to accommodate their growing child. Increasing a mother’s vitamin A intake will not only benefit her child but will also prevent certain maternal complications during birth.

VAD is just as prevalent today as it was in 1998, but VAS is an affordable solution for improving maternal, child, and community health. When battling malnutrition, nutrient supplementation and access to clean water go hand in hand. Every time that a well is drilled, the villagers are trained in the use of greywater and drip irrigation. This allows the community to supplement their diets with vitamin-rich fresh foods that help to fight the epidemic of VAD.


Maintaining High Vitamin Supplementation Coverage in Children Lessons from Niger:

Intrahousehold management and use of nutritional supplements during the hunger gap in Maradi region, Niger: a qualitative study

Helen Keller International and VAS

Vitamin A Supplementation handbook

Importance of provitamin sources in Africa


Empowering Women and Girls in the Fight Against HIV

By Amber Nicolai

Source: NigerTZai, Wikimedia Commons

As the global HIV epidemic rages on, young women and adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected. Although women between the ages of 15 and 24 only make up 10% of the region’s population, they account for one in five new HIV cases.

Gender disparity plays such a large part in the HIV epidemic that organizations like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria see empowering women as crucial in the fight against HIV.

How Does Gender Inequality Affect HIV Rates?

Gender-Based Violence

In regions where HIV is prevalent, gender-based violence is a significant factor in determining whether a woman or adolescent girl will contract the virus. Women in these regions are 50% more likely to contract HIV if they experience intimate partner violence.

Women who experience gender-based violence are often afraid to speak up and insist on safer sex practices, leaving them vulnerable to the disease. Child marriage, which dramatically increases a girl’s chances of being exposed to intimate partner violence, compounds the problem.

Educational Disparity

Women and girls receive less education in many sub-Saharan countries, such as Niger. Keeping girls in school longer is associated with lower rates of HIV for several reasons:

  • Girls with more education are less likely to become child brides and more likely to have control over their sexual health
  • Girls who stay in school are more likely to learn about HIV prevention
  • Better educated girls and women are better able to support their families

Unfortunately, many girls in Niger drop out of school at a young age to take on family responsibilities, such as walking several miles a day to gather water. This increases their educational and income disparity, leading to increased risks of gender-based violence and HIV contraction.

Lack of Access to Preventative Care and Education

Many countries in sub-Saharan countries have laws in place that restrict access to HIV screenings and other sexual health services for women and girls without parental or spousal consent. This prevents many women and girls from accessing the preventative care they need to stay HIV-free.

Improving access to preventative care and implementing HIV education programs can go a long way towards reducing HIV rates among young women.

Economic Empowerment for Women Can Help

Reducing gender-based economic disparity is crucial in improving women’s standing in society, which restores in them a sense of agency and empowerment. Empowering women in this way reduces risks of violence and poverty and improves access to health education, all of which decrease HIV risks.

Programs like the Wells Bring Hope Microfinance Training for Women in Niger give women the resources they need to generate income for their families, improve their position in society, and become role models for their daughters.






2020 – A Recap and the Gift of Gratitude

By Lara Khosrovian

Source: Jonathan Cutrer

With some loops more bearable than others, 2020 was a rollercoaster of a year that we can all agree we would not want to ride again. The most prominent challenge of this year, COVID-19, gave us so much to reflect on. It caught us by surprise, tested our abilities to overcome a drastic shift in lifestyle, and oddly presented us with the priceless opportunity for growth and appreciation. It was not until life dramatically changed, that I realized how much I have to be thankful The countries and people that often escape Americans’ daily conversations were dealing with difficult circumstances long before the pandemic began. For them, hardship was not limited to 2020 or COVID-19.

Hardships such as a lack of clean safe water, weather-related disasters, and political unrest have been part of Nigerien life for years. Even before the pandemic, many Nigeriens were constantly struggling to survive with few resources. This disparity is important to remember as many people settle back into a more “normal” year and approach a more familiar lifestyle.

Last year provided me with new gratitude for my own blessings and reminded me of the many ways I can be of help, especially to those for whom a return to normal is anything but ideal. Here are a few small and simple contributions I’m considering:

  1. Recognize – Understand where I stand as an individual, the circumstances I am lucky to live with, and what that can mean with regard to my ability to help others.
  2. Educate myself – There is so much to learn about the countries that struggle to maintain livable conditions; people in wealthy countries have the power to empower those in developing countries to fulfill their potential by helping to ensure that everyone has access to basic human rights like clean drinking water.
  3. Share – Our wealth of resources enables us to provide for those who have less. Whether it be monetary donations, volunteering precious time, or spreading information, each of us has something to contribute.






Combating the Effects of Climate Change in Niger

By Kayleigh Redmond

Every year, Niger experiences heavy rainfalls that often lead to high surges in local water levels. Last August, at least 45 people were killed and over 226,000 were displaced when torrential rains caused the Niger River to flood. In Niamey, Niger’s capital, entire neighborhoods were submerged. In addition to homes, more than 22,000 acres of farmland were destroyed, leaving many to face the issue of food insecurity. Unfortunately, climate change is a leading cause of these increased downpours, and as it continues to be a prevailing force in the world, Niger will not be safe from this level of impact.

Climate change is not only predicted to bring increased flooding to Niger, but also excessive droughts, sandstorms, and forest fires. Nearly 43 percent of Niger’s GDP comes from agriculture, forestry, and livestock sectors, and 80 percent of the country’s workforce is involved in these industries. Frequent unpredictable weather patterns – from water surges that wash away soil to extreme temperatures that kill the grass that feeds livestock – will continue to disrupt food production and hurt Niger’s economy and people. With these climate risks expected to become worse over the next few decades, something must be done to prevent further loss and insecurity.

The Nigerien government is taking measures against climate change through the implementation of climate-resiliency initiatives, like the National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA). The plan aims to alleviate the harmful effects of climate change by incorporating the crisis into Niger’s planning and budgeting. Through NAPA, 14 adaptation options were determined to be viable courses of action, including promoting food banks, developing anti-erosion infrastructures, encouraging smaller-scale crop production, and restoring basins to foster crop irrigation. Many of these strategies were successfully executed; in 2010 a project was carried out that led to a growth in sustainable market gardening and the re-seeding of deteriorating grazing areas in all eight regions of the country.

Other plans, like Niger’s Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth Strategy (also known as “2035 Vision”) and the Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens (3N) initiative, also outline goals related to the strengthening of the country’s rural development. One major aspect of these strategies is the modernization and diversification of Niger’s food production, which should hopefully lessen the chance of widespread food insecurity due to climate change. Practices like investing in irrigation infrastructure and using improved seed varieties that can withstand harsher weather are expected to give farmlands a better chance of holding up against the increasingly erratic climate.

Source: USAID U.S. Agency for International Development

While having policies and strategies in place to deal with the effects of climate change is a huge step in the right direction, it is not enough. In order for these initiatives to work, they need public support. In 2015, Niger launched its National Climate Change Learning Strategy, which aims to strengthen existing mitigation efforts in addition to raising public awareness of climate change. Workshops designed to educate teachers and professors about the impacts of the crisis have been held, and songs and plays have been written to bring this issue to light in local communities. In 2015, a Youth Climate Dialogue conference was held in Switzerland, in which Swiss and Nigerien students met to share their thoughts about climate change.

No country is immune to the impacts of climate change, but experts agree that the hardest hit will be developing nations like Niger. However, the plans and programs that are currently being carried out are showing great progress, and with each success story, Niger is becoming even more prepared to deal with the fallout of this crisis.




Ouma Laouali: A Pioneering Nigerien Pilot

By: Adhithi Sreenivasan

Source: U.S. Embassy Niamey

Around the world, women are often severely underrepresented in aviation. The thought of a pilot typically conjures an image of a male in a uniform with epaulettes and insignia. Despite women having been involved in the origins of aviation and aircraft development, women represent a mere percent of all pilots across 34 major global airlines, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots in 2018.

However, countries like Niger are experiencing a shift in the aviation status quo. In recent years, Captain Ouma Laouali has been breaking barriers and improving gender equality in aviation in her home country of Niger. On October 21, 2015, at the age of 28, Laouali became the first female pilot in Niger and served with the Nigerien Air Force. This was a pivotal moment for all aspiring female Nigeriens who dream of becoming pilots.

Captain Laouali, when reminiscing about the origins of her desire to become a pilot, commented that to fly was to be like a bird in the sky and to have the opportunity to see a unique, larger view of the world. She also acknowledges the burden present in representing female Nigerien pilots and paving the way for other women in her country desiring to become pilots like her.

As of 2020, Laouali has accumulated around 2,600 flying hours and recently successfully finished the U.S. Air Force’s C-130 Formal Training Unit’s training program located at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, U.S. She is now a certified C-130 Hercules pilot and will undoubtedly continue on to earn more accolades and accomplishments as a female Nigerien pilot.

Her spirit and drive will inspire all women who want to become pilots and pursue a career in aviation, regardless of where they are from.




A School for “Model Husbands” to Promote Maternal Health

(Excerpted from Le Monde, March 22, 2021, and edited for this format)

In Niger, where the fertility rate is seven children per woman, men are called upon to change attitudes.  At the end of February, about ten men sat cross-legged on a mat shaded by the foliage of a neem tree. These “model husbands,” were gathered for class in the courtyard of the health center of Sona, a small rural town on the banks of the Niger River located 85 km from the capital, Niamey. They were not studying algebra or geometry, but rather, the story of the wildly rising curves that represent the illnesses and deaths associated with childbirth. Despite limited formal education, the farmers endeavored to learn and promote the basic rules of maternal health with the aim of saving lives and limiting births.


Source: Wells Bring Hope

Historically in Niger, 30% of girls are married before the age of 15, 76% before 18. Forty-two percent of women are mothers before 17, 75% before 19. Giving birth is not without risk, because the country is under-equipped with health facilities. Every two hours a woman dies in childbirth or from its consequences. In the same interval, six newborns lose their lives.

The idea for The Husband School came in 2007, taken from a study carried out by Nigerien sociologists. It emerged that men are a major obstacle to improving the health of their wives, and without them, there will be no solution.

The Sona health center is the only one for the fifteen surrounding villages and their 16,000 inhabitants. In 2013, there were only 14% assisted deliveries. Today, 55% of women come to give birth here. This is all thanks to the Husband School. As in sports, where not everyone can be on the team, not all men are eligible for Husband School. They must meet nine basic criteria such as being married, available to others, having good character, supporting a family … and agreeing to participate on a voluntary basis, without remuneration.

Slowly, the word has been carried from village to village. The network now has more than 1,000 schools spread across the country. But there is still a long way to go before attitudes change radically.

Water Scarcity: A Not So Perfect World

by Ruby Rodriguez

As a teenager in the process of learning more about our planet, I have come to realize what some people go through on a daily basis in order to get something that is always available to me—clean water.

About 844 million people lack access to clean water, which is close to three times the population of the United States

Women lining up for water in Niger

One of the main causes of water scarcity is climate change. The World Wildlife Fund website mentions that as humans continue to let more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, weather patterns will keep changing around the world. Desertification (the process of fertile land becoming desert as the result of drought) is an effect of climate change that causes many water resources to dry up. Without these water resources, vegetation, plants, and trees aren’t able to grow.

Fortunately, many non-profit organizations are helping with water scarcity around the world. One of them is Wells Bring Hope, a non-profit organization that drills wells in Niger, West Africa.

Not only are there non-profit organizations contributing to solve this problem, but 196 nations have also united to fight and adapt to climate change. They have all signed an international treaty, the Paris Agreement, which has a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a climate-neutral world.

As people become more aware of the effects water scarcity has on the world, we have to start taking some action in our own lives. My generation can also contribute by building awareness about innovative water conservation projects. For example, desalination plants take ocean or seawater and remove salt from it to provide drinking water. One article, published at the Yale School of the Environment, states that, according to the International Desalination Association, 300 million people around the world now get their water from desalination.

In addition, here are some habits we can all acquire in order to save water at home:

  • Collect rainwater and use it to water plants.
  • Reuse shower water in the same way.
  • Take shorter showers and even flush our toilets less.

A big issue that I struggle with is not finishing the water bottles we grab to drink. Without a second thought, I toss a water bottle when there is still water left to drink. In order to stop this bad habit of mine, I have started to write my name on a recycled water bottle and only fill it up to the amount of water I believe I will finish.

If no action is taken to solve this problem, by 2050, at least 1 in 4 people will likely be affected by chronic fresh-water shortages. The simplest things like donating to non-profit organizations or taking shorter showers can help many people around the world have access to clean and safe water. So let’s start our journey today!






Empowering Women Will Change the World

By Caroline Moss

Source: Wells Bring Hope

International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th this year. On this day we celebrate women all over the world and highlight their importance and contributions.

Wells Bring Hope’s commitment to providing safe, clean water empowers women in Niger every day.    Fewer than a quarter of young women are literate and only 31% attend primary school because their time is taken up by the need to walk miles every day to get water for their families.

Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80% of households that do not have access to water. When women have reliable access to clean water, the door to education and opportunity opens. This benefits not just an individual woman, but the entire community around her.

Here are some of the ways education changes lives for women in Niger and developing countries all over the world.

  • Education decreases poverty. With basic education, women are more likely to obtain a job and earn a higher wage. And then spend money on things that support their children and household. One World Bank study found that a year of secondary school can mean as much as a 25% increase in a woman’s earnings later in life.
  • Health education and water access improve hygiene. Education is critical for women’s health and wellbeing. Without access to clean water, proper hygiene and handwashing cannot be practiced.
  • It improves the quality of life. If a girl in the developing world gets seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children than women with less education.
  • Women help economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity and increases both income equality and economic diversification.

When women no longer have to walk for clean water, 50% of their time is freed up, allowing them to get an education, work, and generate income to support their families.

In addition, Wells Bring Hope is the only organization focused on safe water that provides microfinance training to women in every village where we drill a well. Learn more about the training that Wells Bring Hope implements here

When women are educated, they become empowered and have the ability to change the world for the better. Together, we can change the trajectory of women’s lives in Niger by providing them access to clean water.

During International Women’s Week (March 8-12, 2021), Wells Bring Hope will receive a 50% match on every donation up to $50 from Global Giving. Please consider making a donation to show your support.


Bourne, J. (2014). Why Educating Girls Makes Economic Sense. Global Partnership for Education.

Facts and Figures: Economic Empowerment. (2018). UN Women.

Filipovic, J. (2017, October 6). How do you get girls to school in the least educated country on Earth? The Guardian.

International Women’s Day 2021 theme – “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” (2021). UN Women.

ONE. (2019, January 9). Why women and girls are the secret weapon in ending poverty.

Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment. (2018, May 31). IMF.

Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (2018). UN Women.







Passing the Torch: What a Peaceful Transition of Power Could Mean for Niger

By Kayleigh Redmond

Unlike the turmoil surrounding the most recent U.S. presidential election, Niger is anticipating a positive political milestone: an election that could result in the first peaceful transition of power in the country since it gained independence from France in 1960. An uncontested political changeover could mark a new era of democratic, economic, and social success for Niger and its people.

Source: NigerTZai

On December 27, 2020, more than 5.1 million Nigeriens cast their votes for a new president. In Niger, the president is elected to a five-year term by an absolute majority vote, which means that in order to win, a candidate needs to receive more than half of the total votes submitted. In this case, both main candidates – Former Minister of the Interior Mohamed Bazoum and Former president Mahamane Ousmane – failed to reach this threshold. A runoff election, which will finally determine the winner of the race, will be held on February 21st.

Outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou has said that he will respect the outcome of the election and, unlike his predecessors, not seek an illegal third term. To him, the election represents “a new, successful page in our country’s democratic history.” A transition of this nature would be a welcome change from what the people of Niger have dealt with in the past.

Source: UNCTAD XIII Opening Ceremony

Niger is a country with a long history of military coups and insurrection. In 2010, former president Mamadou Tandja was captured and removed from office after he established a constitutional referendum that extended his term for an additional three years and granted him more power. Niger’s parliament and the constitutional court declared the referendum illegal, but Tandja remained in power as a dictator. As a result, Niger was suspended from the Economic Community of West African States. The European Union and the United States imposed travel restrictions and put a hold on some forms of developmental aid to the country.

Political stability and the success of a country go hand in hand. The uncertainty that follows a forceful political takeover (like the aftermath of Tandja’s regime) can lead to reduced foreign aid and investment. As the poorest nation in the world, the Nigerien government depends a great deal on the support they receive from outside sources.

Quality of life is always affected by the quality of government. Human development has a better chance of being prioritized in a country with a stable and reliable political environment. When a country is respected for its political stability and democratic values, it is more likely to attract support from developed nations wanting to see it thrive. Niger is at that turning point, coming into its own as a strategic socio-political partner worthy of support in the long-term.

While the results of the election are yet to be determined, there is hope that an important precedent will be set later this month. If President Issoufou holds true to his word and peacefully passes the torch to the winning candidate, this could be the start of an upward trend in political stability and greater prosperity in Niger.