A water supply pilot project in Tujereng Village in the Gambia has provided villagers with access to clean water, but 40 percent of the community is still waiting for their water pipes.
The project is one of three supported by the United Kingdom charitable organization, Muslim Aid. The other two are located in the villages of Gunjur and Medina Salam.
In Tujereng Village, located about 35 kilometres south of the Gambian capital Banjul, the project has brought some welcome relief from water scarcity.
Since Muslim Aid intervened by digging boreholes, roughly 60 per cent of the village population has been re-supplied with clean water.
The Tujereng deputy Alkalo, meaning deputy village head Harouna Bojang said people resorted to fetching water from abandoned wells, some of which had been transformed into dumping bins after a breakdown occurred in the village’s water supply system.
The Muslim Aid project has not only helped the community get access to clean drinking water, and prevented infection from water born diseases, it has also contributed to the development of agriculture. Once people had enough water they could begin caring for animals.
The new system has made other development projects progress more smoothly as well.
A new maternal ward is being built at the Tujereng health centre.
“Construction work has been made easier by the efficient water supply system,” Harouna Bojang said.
But the population of Tujereng is about 9,000 and climbing and the community still needs more pipes.
Karamo M. Bojang, a member of the water committee, says Muslim Aid sponsored digging for another borehole to supply water to the remaining villagers.
“But so far, one water pipe is installed, providing insufficient water supply to the needy communities,” Bojang said.
The project has also enabled women to purchase refrigerators to make ice blocks, which are sold to fishermen to preserve their fish.
“This enabled women to generate income, hence reducing dependency of households on men only,” Bojang said.
Though the water supply system could not be extended to reach the women’s gardens, Bojang said the Alkalo lobbied other donors who provided hand pumps to facilitate access to water in the gardens.
Tujereng understands the government cannot do it alone, and is mobilising resources from the four ‘Cabilors,’ meaning ward in the Mandinka language), Tamba Kunda, Jambang Kunda, MorriKunda and Badoma Kunda. Each ward pays a certain amount to address the numerous challenges facing the community, including the limited access to water in some areas.
Tujereng is also learning how to take care of their water supply system. The village holds workshops to teach members of the community how to repair the water supply system and how to apply safety measures to their water sources. For example, the workshop teaches that there should be 50 meters between wells and toilets.
Building on success
The village Imam says the project is helpful, but is appealing for more water pipes to reach the communities that still don’t have access.
Ousman Jatta, a member of the elders committee, also appealed for more support, and says the community is always willing to provide the required labour.
Mariama Jallow, a native of Tujereng who sells groundnut at the market, expressed appreciation for the project, noting that it has eased the difficult situation women face struggling to get water.
“Women used to travel distances, standing on queue to fetch water. But since the advent of the project, we have been able to get water easily at shorter distances,” she said.