Mali is a large, land-locked country in Western Africa, two thirds of which is desert. Despite exporting cotton and other resources across Africa and beyond, the country is one of the world’s poorest, with as many as 5.6 million people lacking safe water.
In the last five years, Muslim Hands has dug hundreds of Dig-a-Wells serving 25-30 families, helping thousands across Mali access safe drinking water.
This means, villagers like Djibril no longer have to walk in the unbearable heat to collect unsafe water. In his village of Diatoula in the Koulikoro region of western Mali, getting hold of clean water was a gruelling chore.
During the rainy season, villagers collected water from a spring about 10 minutes-walk away. But the spring is small and has to support nearly 2500 people, so there was often a long que and each family collected barely enough water for drinking and cooking.
During the dry season, the spring is no longer an option. Villagers travel along a winding path down to the side of a ravine to the Niger river to collect water. Most women have to take their children with them, often carrying the smallest on their backs.
The trip down takes up to 4 hours, but climbing back up with wet clothes, tired children plus heavy 20-litre containers of water often took several hours. And, worse than the journey itself is the fact that the water they collected is polluted.
Djibril Coulibaly and his wife have 5 children. The family uses only around 10 litres of water per day – less than one percent of the average amount of water a person in the UK uses.
“There wasn’t enough water to wash our sweet potatoes so we cooked them in skins and dirt. We didn’t wash our eating utensils – just wiped the food off and used them again. We often had diarrhoea and wasted all of our time collecting water.
“Since the Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well this year, we have access to clean water and can spend more of our time farming. We wash our clothes, and our plates and even brush our teeth! We have become clean and healthier.”
Djibril Coulibaly, Mali
Across Mali, Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well schemes are helping communities thrive. The community is also involved at every stage of the construction so they are able to maintain and operate the well in the long-term.
Read more about Muslim Hands Dig-a-Well scheme here: http://muslimhands.org.uk/schemes/dig-a-well/