by John Bidwell, Segou, Mali
The management of water is based on politics and wealth. The village government is in charge of the pumps and their maintenance, even though they are often supplied by an outside agency. Where a pump is located can be a heated debate; a nearby pump is not only practical, but it can be a source of prestige. Anyone can dig a well, provided they have the money. My village of Nampossela is divided into quarters, and each is responsible for the digging and repair of its wells. Wealthier individuals have their own wells in their compounds and gardens. Water for crops is provided by whatever rain is available. People often plant gardens near a well, or bring in water with a barrel on the back of a donkey cart. Unlike the hole for a pump, which is drilled by machine, a well is dug by hand. Few people are trained in that dangerous and laborious work, and there is no guarantee that water will be found.