People in south-central Niger receive a better chance at life through clean water and good hygiene practices
It’s nearing 120 degrees outside, and already the women have walked three miles in the desert heat. They’re only halfway to the well in the neighboring village, and there’s no shade to hide from the sun’s harsh rays. At the well they’ll wait in line, draw water, and pour it into their jerry cans. Then they’ll have to walk the six miles home. Tomorrow, they’ll do it again.
Some days the women don’t have hours to dedicate to drawing water, and the families are left with no choice but to drink from ponds that are much closer than the well. The ponds are shared by animals, which often trample through the water, contaminating it with waste. Sometimes the children become so ill from the water they die.
“Fetching water was very hard work, and children were dying due to the bad quality of the available water,” said Samaila, a father of four.
Samaila is from the village of Zagon Tallabe in south-central Niger. For the past 10 years, the village has heard multiple promises from government officials that a water point would be installed in their village, but they never saw results.
When Samaritan’s Purse first arrived in Zagon Tallabe, people were hesitant to participate in the project. We told the villagers that we would provide the materials for a water point if the villagers would provide the labor. In addition, Samaritan’s Purse staff members would teach good hygiene practices.
Like many of the villagers, Samaila was wary of Samaritan’s Purse at first. Because he had heard promises before from the government, he didn’t believe the village would actually receive anything. Weary of living in a village without water, his wife had left five months before.
Faced with the increasingly hard work of fetching water and with the death of so many village children, he and the other villagers decided to trust Samaritan’s Purse.
Not only has this helped transform the health and future of Zagon Tallabe, but it has also changed neighboring villages, as Samaila and others take the message about hygiene practices and treating drinking water. This messaging will decrease death from waterborne illnesses.
“Samaritan’s Purse has taught us about hygiene practices, and this, in addition to gaining access to clean water, has improved the health of our children,” Samaila said. “With the installation of this new borehole, [my wife] returned home, and we are enjoying this great gift together.”
After installing the water point, Samaritan’s Purse stayed in Zagon Tallabe for additional training. Men from the village often enter into neighboring Nigeria to find seasonal labor jobs. But this year, they’ve been prevented from that because of the threat of Boko Haram.
Since this means many families are struggling with no income, Samaritan’s Purse initiated a savings and loan program in the village. We taught groups of women in the village to earn money through activities such as soap making. The groups can use that money to loan to families in the most need.
“SP is a beam [of light] that enlightens our life and gives us hope for the future,” Samaila said.