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Community Pumps in Niger

In rural Niger, community pumps are being installed in many villages in response to a widespread water crisis. Sixty-four percent of Niger’s rural population lacks access to clean water. About nine in ten citizens lack a proper way to dispose of their own waste.

These water woes promote disease, stagnate education and economic growth, and result in the majority of rural Niger’s infant and child deaths.

Niger is a drought-plagued land on the borders of the Sahara Desert. There is little rainfall, so groundwater must supply most people’s daily needs. Yet this traditional water source presents many problems.

Hand-dug wells lack concrete liners and are subject to contamination by seepage of waste and other contaminants. Traditional wells also have no pumps, so women must haul water up by hand in a demanding and time-consuming chore.

Existing wells are widely scattered—so that women and children may spend hours and travel many kilometers a day just to provide water for their homes.

A proliferation of modern drilled wells and pump systems can alleviate many of these problems, but most communities lack the resources to fund drilled wells or to purchase and maintain pumps.

In recent years, international organizations like UNICEF and the World Bank have been able to help.

UNICEF has funded the construction and repair of many boreholes and wells to provide clean water to more than a quarter million people.

The World Bank also has a program in place to fund local drillers and pump manufacturers that will be able to install some 100 wells and pumps per year—providing water to an additional 25,000 people annually.

The establishment of more modern wells is easing the health crisis caused by lack of clean potable water. It is also changing communities for the better.

Localized pumps relieve women and children of the water-carrying burden that consumes so much of their time and energy. With water accessible close to home, women and children have time to pursue their educations or other economic opportunities. Many community source pumps are intentionally located near schools, providing an added incentive for children to attend classes near the source of their family’s water.

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