The hope of a better life for mother and child with the establishment of manual drilling in Salinated Zones
By Michèle Akan Badarou, Communication Specialist
One of the goals of Millennium for Development is to reduce by half, the percentage of the population without access to clean water by the year 2015. In Guinea twenty-nine per cent of population is without clean water. Of that group, eighty-nine percent live in urban areas and sixty-one percent live in rural areas. The prefectures with the least access to clean water are located in Boffa, Fria, Gaoual, Kindia, Pia, Guéckédou, Macenta and Yomou. Access to clean water is an important element in the reduction of morbidity and a key factor in the alleviation of the workload of women.
GUINEA - During the July rainy seasonthe plains in the Prefecture of Boffa become a sea of green. ,A first impression of the green landscape is that there is an abundance of water. But this is salt water and cannot be drunk. This is typical of the area which extends along the coastline north-east of the Prefecture.ffa. The high salt water table Its geographical position prohibits the use of industrial drilling machines used in other regions of the country to access drinking water. The challenge for UNICEF and the National Water Point Service of Guinea is to capture shallow groundwater using a simple technology, manual drilling. This is a region that has known cholera in the past and a ready supply of good, clean water is vital.
In late 2010 and early 2011, during the first stage of the project, nine manual drilling stations were built at Tougnifily at a cost of USD $90,000. One was built at Sonfonia Health Center, located in the populated urban municipality of Ratoma, in Conakry. These works served more than two hundred thousand women and children. After many years of suffering, the people’s dream came true. Prior to this point, the only supply of water in this region was seasonal rainfall, traditional wells, as well as developed wells which were used by both humans and animals. The storage conditions for the rainwater were inadequate, usually uncovered buckets. This water would be stored for months making it not potable and resulting in diarrheal disease in children.
Kadiatou Aboubacar Camara has been the president of a manual drilling station in Tombaya, a district of the sub-Prefecture of Tougnifily for two months. A teacher by profession, she was elected by the village community to care for the pump. She is committed to her work. “I oversee the maintenance and repair of the manual pump that was installed not long ago with the support of UNICEF,” she explains. “Also, I have to make sure that the surroundings are always clean.” She adds,” the absence of clean water caused us a lot of suffering. It took about one hour to travel five kilometers to the school to get clean water.”
Aminata Bangoura, a young housewife living in the village of Monchon, in the same sub-Prefecture echoes the sentiments of Ms. Camara. She went through a very difficult period without potable water. In the middle of a small grassy area by her house, she exposes a makeshift well. She had been using it as source of water for herself and her animals. The water is brackish and not surprisingly, children and adults drinking the water suffer frequent bouts of diarrhea and cholera. She added “Three years ago, I lost my school-aged son as a result of cholera”. Ms. Bangoura appreciates the health benefits and time saving aspects of having a new pump installed in her village and added, “I really hope that we will increase the number of manual drilling stations because there are still too few compared to the size of the population”. She also raises another concern, “During the next dry season, which starts in a month, we might see a rush of people at the few manual pumps that are available.” Issoufou Monchon Camara, a neighboring farmer nods in agreement.
Better management of water stations
The manual drilling station installed on the playground of Tombaya elementary school has ushered in a new way of life for the people of the village. It is now a focal point in their daily lives and a busy gathering place. In order to maintain normal operation of the school, the village must regulate the hours that people can use the pump. There is also a drawing fee. A twenty liter bucket costs one-hundred Guinean francs. On the advice of the treasurer, receipts are recorded by the president. Funds routinely collected will be used for maintenance of the facility and for purchasing spare parts. Two repairmen have being trained to troubleshoot problems and make repairs as necessary. In addition, the village intends to build a fence to secure the area surrounding the pump.
Toward new perspectives
In Guinea, poverty in rural areas is higher than in urban areas, and this is indicative of many countries in the region. A recent study suggests that the poorest households use surface water to provide for the daily needs of their households at a disproportionately higher rate compared to the rest of the population. UNICEF/Guinea is currently mobilizing additional resources and identifying geologically suitable sites for manual drilling, thanks to funding from Dutch National Committee of UNICEF. It is important to continue the fight against waterborne diseases in these regions, and to promote the enjoyment of a fundamental human right, which is access to clean water.