The Source of Our Water
by Rebecca and Jay Wozny, Saare Oumar, Senegal
In Senegal, most water in the villages comes from a well (or several wells). Where we live in southern Senegal, water is fairly abundant and wells don't need to be dug very deep. Water is available during the rainy season, from June to October. During this time, the rice fields fill with murky water, which eventually flows into the Casamance River.
During the dry season, water is not as plentiful. Fortunately, however, the villagers don't have to walk too far to get water. Our village has about 20 wells for 300 people. If we have a particularly good rainy season, the wells don't dry up.
The water in the wells is usually crystal clear. But if there has been a lot of rain or if a lot of people have been using the well, it becomes murky. There are no pulleys or pumps; instead, we throw a rope and bucket into the well and then pull it up after the bucket is filled. If the bucket is large, it can be very heavy. It's a good workout! We then empty the well bucket into a brightly colored plastic buckets and, balancing the buckets on our heads, carefully walk back to our hut.
by Catherine Guillard, Samba Diarry, Senegal
The water source in our village is a 100-year-old well. It is 60 meters deep—which is very deep for a well in our area—so it takes up to three women to pull up one bag of water. If the women are lucky, they are able to enlist the aid of a horse or donkey or even a couple of cows to pull the water for them. Once all the water has been pulled and poured into 25-liter tubs, each woman puts one tub on her head and carries it back to her family's compound, a distance, for some, of nearly one kilometer. This trip is made three times a day, either in the early morning or the evening when the sun is not too hot.
The well water is a muddy-brown color during the dry season and greenish-brown during the rainy season. I have to filter and bleach the water before drinking it, but the locals just drink the water straight, with no treatment.
by Enid Abrahami, Missirah Tabadian, Senegal
Not too long ago, I spent the entire day working at a nearby health post. We had been very busy because it was the rainy season, a time when malaria is rampant. I returned to my village, exhausted, contemplating a cool bucket bath in my backyard shower stall, under the moon and the stars. But then I realized that I had forgotten to pull water from the well that morning. My buckets were dry. Disheartened, I entered my hut and sat down on my bed, trying to decide what to do. Should I go to the well in the dark to pull water, or should I just wait until tomorrow morning?
Before I could decide, I heard the pitter patter of raindrops hitting my grass roof. Immediately, I undressed and, wrapping a towel around me, scooted to the shower stall in my backyard. There, for the first time in my entire life, I took a rain shower by the light of the moon.
by Kathleen Rucker, Louga, Senegal
Our water comes from a community faucet in the village center. It was installed about 15 years ago. Water from a reservoir in northern Senegal is pumped through pipes to all the major towns in the region. Families must pay five CFA (.008 cents) per bucket of water. Although the faucet is locked in the afternoons, water is available throughout the morning and evening.
Two or three times a day, the village women line up at the community faucet to fill their buckets with water. It is difficult for those women who live far from the village center, since they have to carry the heavy water bucket back home. Each house has a water storage container—such as an old oil drum or clay pot—where the day's water is kept.
The water from the faucet is clean and clear. I always filter my water to make sure that it is free of germs and bacteria.
by Jamie Schehl, Sokone, Senegal
Daga Diawdie is medium-size village (population: 300) located in the Delta region along the coast of Senegal. Here, everyone gets their water from wells. But many of these wells have become infiltrated with salt. Wells with low saline levels are designated for drinking, and the rest for bathing or laundry water. In the nine months that I have lived here, I have seen only one well go dry. There does not appear to be a water shortage problem.