Not far from the African Well Fund’s first Nigerien project in Tsamia Jigo, Kabefo village fought a similar battle to secure enough increasingly scarce water to survive. Like in much of the rest of Niger, rainfall in Kabefo is both inconsistent and inadequate, unable to provide a secure supply of water for the community. More than 77% of the population of Kabefo lived with both a severe food crisis and water shortage.
During the wet season, the water shortage was somewhat ameliorated by local ponds, which provided drinking water for livestock. Villagers shared this water as well, but at the risk of waterborne disease. When the ponds would dry up, often within a few weeks, the 1307 people in Kabefo had to rely on a single well. The government of Niger considers a well for every 500 to be an acceptable standard; Kabefo’s well simply could not keep up with the demands of a larger village and dried up every day due to overuse.
As is often the case, the water shortage was hardest on women. Charged with securing water for their animals and their families, women would stay at the well until dawn in an attempt to carry home only a few liters of water.
Unlike some parts of Niger where the water table is fairly high at only ten meters, Kabefo’s water table is much lower, between 40 and 50 meters, which made the construction of another well for the community a costly, unattainable proposition.
African Well Fund partners Africare identified Kabefo as critically in need of a new water source, and in 2009 AWF moved to fund the construction of a new 50-meter well.
Construction began in March, though progress was slow due to the challenges of digging in the area. Workers contended with landslides and and hard clay until the water table was reached in September.
In the meantime, Africare oversaw the formation of a local Water Committee. The eleven member panel, at least five of whom were women, were to manage the well and ensure it remained operational. In addition, a three-member control committee made sure procedures were properly implemented.
Contributions from committee members combined with those of the rest of the community made it possible for proper maintenance work to be done locally, while still having a source of funds to draw upon if more extensive repairs should ever become necessary.