The Source of Our Water
by Katherine Whitman, Ker Cherno, The Gambia
The water I use for drinking, washing, bathing, and cooking all comes from closed pumps. These pumps were built for the village by a German-Gambian coalition. The entire village fetches its water from these pumps or several open wells located around the village.
When I first would go to the pumps to manually pump my water, I would just carry the bucket back home by hand. I soon learned the more efficient way to carry water: on your head. It is quite amazing to see all the people of the village carrying small, medium, and large buckets on their heads. It is definitely a workout to pump and then carry the water home. The women who carry these large buckets on the head have extremely strong necks. They do not just go to the pump once a day; they go back seven or eight times.
It was definitely challenging getting used to the fact that I would be manually pumping all the water I use. I definitely find it gratifying and I find I use less water. There is no need to run the faucet to get hot water; I boil it. It is surprising how much you can conserve without all the modern inventions the United States now has. No flush toilet, sinks for running water, showers, or baths.
I am extremely lucky that, in this part of Africa, there is a water table that can be tapped. The water is plentiful, but this does not mean we can waste it. Compared with my consumption in the United States, I would say I have reduced my use by at least 50 percent. When I return to the States, I will bring back many good ideas for limiting water consumption.
by Rachel Davis, Deb Baesemen, Tim Burroughs, Kendra Cornwell, , The Gambia
Our water comes from one of five wells throughout the village. All of these wells are covered and the water is retrieved through a pump. The quality of the water is fair, but we always filter it before drinking as a precautionary measure. The locals, however, drink it as is.