Rotary provides clean water for African village


    By David Smith
    Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs

    The Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs, working with Rotary Clubs in Vienna, Austria and Niamey, Niger, has completed a project that provides both drinking and irrigation water for a village located in the sub-Saharan desert of Africa. 

    Drilling of a 350-foot-deep well and management of distribution of the water was organized by the Catholic organization Fraternité des Servantes du Christ à Maradi. This region, like most of Niger, is primarily Muslim.

    This organization seeks to educate and generally improve the lives of the 7,500 residents living in the village of Saé Saboua. Because most of the water in this region comes from the July/August rainy season, water is scarce throughout much of the year. Most residents use contaminated surface water for drinking and bathing.

    The new well is now providing more than 1,000 gallons a day of water that is used for both drinking and irrigation. Water from this deep well will provide clean water throughout the year. Approximately 180 women from the community are growing high-value crops, such as tomatoes, onions and lettuce, on the irrigated land. Sale of these crops provides both income and food for their families.

    The cost of this project, nearly $70,000, is far beyond the means of the community. Data from the World Bank shows that 40 percent of the population of Niger lives on less than $2 per day, which makes Niger one of the poorest countries in Africa. Investing in such infrastructure enables communities living in deep poverty to help themselves.

    This project was made possible through a grant from the Rotary Foundation, which is supported by its 1.2 million members located in over 200 countries. Although the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs focuses most of its effort locally, it is pleased to be part of this three-continent project that is helping to combat deep poverty. The motto of Rotary International, “Service above self,” applies to both individuals and communities.