Burkina Faso

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School Children No Longer Drink Pond Water

From: Inspiring Change Spring 2014

According to national standards in Burkina Faso, there should be one clean source of water available for every 300 people. In Bersaga, an arid village of 1,275, families shared just two borehole wells, and in the nearby village of Noarangou, more than 800 residents shared a single borehole well.

As a result, it was not uncommon to see children in Bersaga drinking water from ponds or rivers on their way to school, or in Noarangou, drinking from unsafe wells. To fetch clean water in Noarangou, women and girls travelled far distances and waited in long line-ups – often, only to discover that overuse of the well had caused low water pressure, or the well to break down. Thanks to the support of donors, and the generosity of our partner in the field, Catholic Organisation for Development and Solidarity, a new borehole well was built in each community that has made clean drinking water available to nearly 300 primary school children, and families living in the surrounding areas.

Two water management committees were set up and trained to ensure the proper use and maintenance of the wells, and a youth theatre group performed a play to teach children and teachers about good hygiene behaviour around the wells and the sustainable use of water resources. The addition of the borehole wells has been transformative for the school children. In Bersaga, girls used to be responsible for fetching water for their classmates. Now, boys are also involved. All the children are also responsible for the care of a new vegetable garden, built just 15 metres from the well behind the classrooms. In Noarangou, the new water source means that children no longer need to depend on the one overused borehole well, or drink from ponds or contaminated wells – keeping them safe from deadly waterborne illnesses.

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