The Source of Our Water
by Lori Duff, Grahipla, Côte d'Ivoire
Every morning and evening, women drift by my house, walking carefully so as not to spill water from the large basins they balance on their heads. Luckily, I have a deep well nearby and don't have to walk too far. I'm not very good at carrying things on my head, especially a load as heavy as water, which sloshes back and forth as you walk.
Our well was originally a pump. It broke and was never repaired. Eventually, people simply took off the top. Because it is so deep, it's clean, except for the pieces of frayed rope that fall in from pulling up the rubber buckets. It is hard work to pull up water because the well is more than 15 feet deep. Most of the time, it takes two people working together to gather water. There are other people in the area who must walk great distances to the nearest pump, well, or pond.
Our region has many small hills and hollows. During the rainy season, water fills the low-lying areas and becomes drinking holes. These ponds are more convenient for some villagers, but the water can be very dirty and infested with Guinea worm.
by Sarah McElroy, Kamalo, Côte d'Ivoire
There is plenty of water during the rainy season, from May through October. During the dry season, October to April, water can be scarce. When it is very dry, women will walk to a nearby village in the hope of getting water from their pumps.
During the rainy season, I get my water from the rain that lands on my roof. I put out buckets to catch the rain. I also get water from an uncovered well in my courtyard. The water from the well can be dirty and sandy. It is especially dirty and sandy during the dry season, when there is little water in the well. (In the dry season, the well slowly dries up.) Sometimes during the rainy season, the well water will have little worm-like tadpoles swimming in it. Generally, the water is pretty clear when you draw water.
During the dry season I get my water from a broken water pump in the village, which is now used like an open well. The "well" is about 22 meters deep. I use a plastic bag and 24 meters of rope to draw water, and four medium-sized buckets to carry it back home. I carry one bucket on my head, like the other women in my village. It takes me about two hours to fill and transport eight buckets of water to my house.
by Amy Bailey, Grand-Bereby, Côte d'Ivoire
In Grand-Bereby, most people get their water from wells. These wells are situated in private courtyards and in public areas. Due to an adequate amount of yearly rainfall and enough groundwater in the southern coastal areas of Côte d'Ivoire, the wells always have enough water to supply the people of Grand-Bereby. For drinking, bathing, and cooking, people use unfiltered well water. Although it's hard to prove without lab tests of the water, I'm positive this contributes to the population's gastrointestinal ailments. Next year, the city should have running water. The pipes are laid, the treatment area built, the water tower in place, and the bill collection office completed. It remains to be seen how much of the population will subscribe to the service. Change is slow here. Although some people are excited, many will probably continue to draw water, as they always have, from local "watering holes."