I’m using the Wells Bring Hope Blog to boast. I’m going to be a father, yay for me! I will resist the urge to delve into every detail of my wife’s pregnancy, even though every change, every developmental stage is fascinating to me. I will resist because I know that we are not the only ones who have ever had a child, and keeping people up to date with day-by-day progress is not some sort of world service, documenting a never before seen phenomenon.
A couple of years ago, Marcy Norton heard Gil Garcetti speak about the water crisis and the work that Wells Bring Hope is doing to combat it. When her next birthday rolled around, Marcy, along with her mother Rita, decided to start a Water Circle with the goal of raising enough money to fund a well. A little over a year later, she reached her goal! In celebration of her success, she sent the following email out to her friends and family:
Happy Valentine’s Day
Whenever we drill a well, we teach the people living in the village how to make use of every droplet of water. Water is scarce, and every single drop counts. One of the ways we do this is by teaching them that the water that has been used for washing should not be discarded because while it is no longer potable, it can still serve a valuable purpose. This use of greywater, the water collected from hand washing stations, dish washing, and other household washing, is essential in drought-ridden West Africa. In every village where we drill, we teach the villagers how to use this greywater to nurture their gardens using the technique of drip water irrigation. This simple form of technology increases the efficiency of water usage and produces incredible benefits. This system relies on simple buckets or trash bins- to act as water reservoirs- and drip tape, which is placed between every other row of crops. The drip tape is attached to the water source, and allows for low-pressure water to trickle down to the soil, nourish the vegetation, and ultimately deliver produce that is packed with nutritious benefits to supplement the villagers’ diets.
One of our many stops was Gatawane in the region of Tillaberi. The village is two hours north of the capital of Niamey and close to the Malian border. The main road leading to Gatawane was in great condition, but as soon as we saw the sign announcing our intended destination, we veered onto an unpaved, rocky road to meet the people of Gatawane who were eagerly expecting us.
Months earlier, the village had received the life-saving gift of a borehole well that is now providing clean, safe water to the whole village. Close to 1,650 lives have been transformed since the drilling of this well. My arrival, along with the World Vision staff, was a chance for the villagers to express their gratitude and a chance for me to reveal to the village that their benefactor was as we dedicated the well to the Adami/Robertson family. Laurie, Ben and Gus have been staunch supporters of Wells Bring Hope for several years, and this is the second well that they have provided for the people of rural Niger.
Gatawane is a very special place because from 2004 to 2011, the area has seen environmental changes that have negatively impacted life and livelihood for the local population. The region has registered decreasing rains as well as very high and dry winds that erode the ground and make the land infertile. A locust invasion depleted several harvests, and due to the proximity to the Malian border, bovine theft is not uncommon. This series of disasters was interrupted in the later part of 2012 when Wells Bring Hope funded the drilling of a much-needed borehole well. This ray of hope marks the beginning of the end of many of the village’s problems.
Thanks to a generous gift by Mr. Kareem Ahmed, the students of Simiri Junior High School, 50 miles outside of the capital of Niamey, can now drink fresh, clean water from a borehole well drilled especially for their use by Wells Bring Hope.
Yesterday was World AIDS Day, and as we celebrate how far we have come in fighting and preventing this disease, it is important to remember how significant a problem it continues to be, particularly in Africa. According to the UN AIDS Report, more than 70% of the persons infected with HIV worldwide live in Sub-Saharan Africa as did 90% of the 210,000 children under the age of 15 who died of AIDS-related causes last year.
In its annual report released on November 6th, the UN Population Fund revealed that Niger had the world’s highest childhood pregnancy rate, with 51 per cent of women in their 20s reporting that they gave birth before turning 18.
Every year, 7.3 million children become mothers in developing countries. Some 70,000 mothers between 15 and 19 die from complications after birth each year.
The water crisis is about as big and deadly as it gets. There are 345 million
people in Africa who lack access to clean, safe water. I saw it firsthand when I had
the opportunity to go to Niger, West Africa in January 2012. On that trip, I visited a village without “safe water,” which meant that the women and girls would have to walk for miles to a filthy water hole to get any form of water. They would fill a large bucket with foul, brown, disgusting water and trudge back to their village carrying the heavy load on their heads. Water so filthy that I wouldn’t even give it to my pets was their only source of water for cooking and drinking. Forget about hygiene – water is too precious and rare to be used for hand washing or showers. Because of all this, more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes.
The ten poorest countries in the world lie within this region of one of the largest continents on Earth. Seven nations in this area are currently troubled with political and social issues, and have been devastated by harsh climate changes. Niger is one of the most severely affected of those countries.
According to Oxford University’s poverty index, 92 percent of Niger’s population is trapped in what is called “multi-dimensional” poverty, the highest level in 109 countries studied. Niger, along with nearby Congo, was also ranked dead last on the UN’s 2013 Human Development Index.