Qatar Charity is Combatting Drought Via Solar Power Artesian Water Wells and Establishing Community-Managed Health Services in Niger
Qatar Charity's latest projects in Niger have benefited 14,000 in the villages of Sowna and Aichign. The constant threat of drought and overall desperate conditions in such villages make the digging and installation of modern solar-powered artesian wells a priority. As well, Qatar Charity selected these villages to assist owing to their inadequate potable water and sanitation, shortages of essential medicines, too few school classrooms and willingness of the community to participate and contribute.
Though located only 58 kilometers from the nation's capital of Niamey in the municipality of Korti, Tillabery province, Sowna's 6,000 people struggle in one of the poorest regions in the country. People were forced to walk 5 kilometers a day to get water from the only well; an ancient construction noted for its polluted water also used by livestock. The polluted water had led to a number of diseases and epidemics, causing many deaths, particularly among children, the elderly and women. Some diseases, such as cholera and schistosomiasis, reoccurred annually and could only be prevented by the provision of a source of clean water
The well is now functioning and villagers have access to safe drinking water free of charge. The solar powered electric pump keeps the 10.8 cubic meters water tank filled with an electric pump to fill it. Six classrooms have also been built at the only elementary school, which serves 546 pupils.
Aichign, with a population of about 8,000, suffers from similar challenges. To date, Qatar Charity has also funded a range of local income-generating activities (mill grain, cattle and sheep fattening, school gardens, shops, agricultural inputs, animal-drawn carts and other projects), the revenue from which will be used to improve the facilities and services of the village.
Revenues from the program have been used to set up a community-managed medicinal store, which is working to address some of the health problems of Aichign's residents and those of twelve nearby villages, who were previously dependent on one rural pharmacy. The drugs are used to tackle malaria and other diseases that cause high mortality in Niger.
Funds have also been utilized to purchase a vehicle in which to provide emergency transportation for the sick. Previously, local relied on animal-drawn carts or motorcycles leading to further health complications.