The tiny village of Monouwel, in Northern Mali, had only one well, and that one well spewed dirty fetid water. And because rebels and jihadists still roamed the countryside in the aftermath of the 2012 crisis in Northern Mali, women of the village risked their lives daily walking for hours to bring back water for cleaning, drinking, and farming. When NEF staff members asked Chief Aliou Youssouf Maiga if he wanted their help to access clean water, he didn’t believe it was possible because the spring they chose was more than four kilometers away.
The spring catchment system, built through the Restoring Economic Capacity of Populations Affected by the Crisis in Northern Mali (RECAPE) project, uses gravity to bring water to Monouwel. ‘The sustainable water system even uses pumps to retract the water to a holding tank when not in use,” says Chief Maiga. “We had no resources of our own to build anything like this.”
At first, the villagers thought the water was only for drinking, but they soon began to use it for their crops and started a local vegetable garden to augment their food supply, and many pastoralists stop by the village to water their animals. Today, children play in the village while men tend the fields, and women do the washing and prepare food for the day. As little as a year ago, this kind of tranquility was nearly impossible. “I do not have enough words to describe how grateful we are to NEF,” says Chief Maiga. “It would take me all day trying to describe it.”