Water shortage in Niger: where is the nearest well?

A hot, dry region, 90,000 men, women and children and only 208 water collection points with many of them faulty or dried up – the prospects are not good. SWISSAID is active in 21 villages to make sure the water begins to flow again.

Access to clean drinking water changes people’s lives!” says Idrissa Moussa, a hydraulics engineer for SWISSAID in Niger who enabled communities like Méhanna in the Tillabéry region to have access to water. Four of the villages in this large community, or more than 3000 men, women and children, are now able to drink clean well water. “The situation in Méhanna used to be dreadful,” said Moussa. “Water is such a precious resource that women walked many miles to the Niger River to collect it and carry it back to the village. Six hours on foot to fetch water that is dirty and can even cause diseases like cholera!” 

Schools also benefit

The fact that water is the chief concern of the population in Niger, a country in the Sahel, is reflected in SWISSAID’s activities there, which focus on supplying water. We are one of the eight organisations that make up the Water & Sanitation Consortium, which has recently been granted 14 million Swiss francs by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for new water projects.

Against this background, SWISSAID managed to launch projects for 26,000 people in 21 villages in the communities of Mantakari and Torodi last year. Schools, health centres and markets will also receive access to water thanks to the six planned wells, five water towers and pipelines.

As a result, people are no longer forced to consume the dirty water from the Niger or its tributaries. Wells and water towers supply clean drinking water and, at the same time, make an enormous difference to the everyday lives of the women. In the community of Méhanna mentioned at the start, the women now only have to fetch water for an hour a day, instead of six as used to be the case. With more time at their disposal, the girls are able to attend school and the women can cultivate larger fields, once again with the assistance of SWISSAID. This improves the diet and the finances of the entire family because the women sell part of the harvest at the local market. 

Thanks to the cooperation within the Swiss Water & Sanitation Consortium, SWISSAID has much greater influence on national water and hygiene policy. This is especially important in a country like Niger where only one in every three people has access to clean water and fewer than seven per cent have a toilet. According to figures from UNICEF, water-borne diseases account for 80 per cent of infant mortality in developing countries.

Project code: NI 01/14/01

Project duration: 3 years

Beneficiaries: 26'023 men, women and children

Project costs: 277'207 Swiss francs