January 2003 Report
Food Delivery and Research
Rearding Water and Sanitation Needs in the Village of Foutaka, Zambougou,
Mali, West Africa
& Wells Garden
Report by Karen Marx
Abdoul Doumbia and I traveled to Bamako, Mali, in late Decemer,
2002, then traveled to Segou. Segou is the town where farmers bring
their crops to sell, and then it is transported to Bamako and other
areas. We were in Segou for a day and a half to locate the quantity
of food we wanted to purchase, negotiate the price, hire loaders,
and acquire trucks to transport the food to Zambougou. In Segou
we were welcomed at the home of Almamyba, a well-known Malian musician
who plays kamalingoni and sings spiritual songs. Almamyba was able
to negotiate a fair price for the food, as the supply is limited
due to the drought in Mali. The price is twice that in 1999 when
we last delivered food to Zambougou.
purchased 37,400 pounds of millet and rice, most of which was delivered
to Zambougou and the "Fulani" village adjacent. The villagers
were extremely grateful for the food, as their supply was insufficient
to feed them until the next harvest, due to the severe drought conditions.
There are approximately 2000 villagers in Zambougou, plus about
350 "Fulani" tribe members who are in a cluster adjacent
to the main village and consider themselves part of Zambougou. This
is a total of 2350 villagers, approximately.
Upon arriving in Zambougou, we were warmly
greeted a better description would be gleefully! The next
morning Abdoul, Sekou Camara, Souley Diarra, and I met with the
village and spoke with the elders. The late Sekou Camara was a translator,
historian, teacher, and storyteller from Bamako who was Abdouls
longtime friend and had been our translator during all of the six
visits to Mali that I have made.
Sekou described to the elders and the village
our desire to assist the village in becoming fully self-sufficient.
The villagers were extremely receptive and happy with our presence.
Water and Wells
in Segou, Sekou and I met with the director, Oumar Traore,
of "Direction Regionale Hydraulique Et Energie, Region De Segou,
Republique du Mali". With Sekou as my translator, I discussed
with Mr. Traore The Mali Assistance Project, our efforts to date
with food delivery and our research relating to water in the village
of Foutaka Zambougou, the meager supply and contamination of existing
water. Mr. Traore stated that his office was aware of the water
problems in Zambougou. He said that this village was the driest
area in the Segou region and had possibly the worst problem with
water among all of the villages. He said that he was extremely pleased
to know that MAP was working to assist the village and offered his
full support and gratitude.
Mr. Traore explained that the land is hard volcanic rock and dry
land. He said it is not easy to drill or to find water. He described
the efforts over the past 18 years to find water. 139 meters was
drilled in Tesserela with no water found. 81 meters was drilled
in Zambougou by another NGO with no water found.
from his staff traveled to Zambougou several months ago to inspect
the wells and to assess the problem. They were able to allocate
the funds to replace one of the Mark II hand pumps supplied in the
1980s by Saudi Arabia (it has been broken since 1986 and was
manufactured in India parts are no longer available). They
cleaned out the well and provided a French pump called Vergnet.
This well produces at a rate of 1.35 cubic meters per hour. Another
well dug in 1986 by Saudi Arabia, that has a broken Mark II pump,
produces water at a rate of 1.4 cubic meters per hour; however,
the water is inaccessible to the village due to the broken pump.
It is 93 meters deep. Mr. Traore stated that his office has determined
that one good producing well per 400 villagers is required to have
sufficient water. The village has approximately 2350 members. Four
or five good wells are necessary. However, Mr. Traore said that his office
did not have the funds to replace the second Mark II pump or to
help Zambougou additionally with their water problems.
I described to Mr. Traore the research and efforts made by EWB-USA
(Engineers Without Borders), founded by Professor Bernard Amadei.
I asked his opinion of using the Peace Corps model of hand-digging
wells to a deeper level, then adding Dutch bricks and concrete liners
to limit contamination.His opinion was that these solutions would fail. His strong recommendation was to bring in
a drilling rig, create 100-meter deep tube wells, use the French
hand pump, and create a concrete platform around the pump to prevent
contamination of the wells and of the containers used by the villagers.
I requested that one of his technicians go with us to Zambougou
to inspect the wells and further discuss the options to remediate
the water problems. Siaka volunteered and traveled with us to Zambougou
on January 2nd.
On January 3rd, Sekou, Siaka, two village well experts and I walked
around the entire village to inspect and measure the wells and the
latrines. With a rock tied to
a rope, we measured the depth of each well and the level of water
in the well. We discussed with the villagers the usage of each well
and noted that most of the wells had gone dry. There were dry well
holes all around the village a serious danger for children
playing. I asked if children ever fell into the wells, as there
is no protection around the holes, and was told that they do. When
this unfortunate event happens, it is either fatal or the child
is seriously injured.
The village well experts explained that their fathers and grandfathers
taught them to never dig a well deeper than the volcanic rock, as
the well would cave in and suffocate them. They said that all of
the wells were dug to this point and could not be dug deeper. With
this information and the expertise of Siaka and Oumar Traore, Sekou
and I realized that the only option for an appropriate water solution
would be to
- Repair and clean out the former Saudi Arabian dug well, then
install the French hand pump and replace the broken concrete slab
around the pump. The was done by professional engineers and Engineers without Borders.
- At the location of one of the existing wells that currently
has water and is centrally located to service many villagers,
to bring in a drilling rig and dig the well to a 100 meter depth;
install a tube well and the French hand pump; and create a large,
round, concrete slab with a retaining wall around the pump to
provide a clean area to set containers to be filled with water.
- Locate a third existing well to dig to the 100 meter depth,
This would provide the village with four good producing wells and
a constant supply of water. It also would provide clean, pure water
there would be no need to provide water purification systems.
The existing wells are seriously contaminated from the latrines
that are ten to twenty feet from the wells, as well as debris that
fall into the wells. With the described new deep wells, the contamination
from latrines would no longer be a factor and a problem.
We agreed that the committee would search for and locate a plot
of fertile land where the women would have a community garden for
vegetables. Rather than
individual family vegetable gardens, the women will work together.
MAP & EWB-USA will provide a rain-catching pond for the garden.
in Zambougou for six days enabled me to realize the serious level
of illness among all of the children. One child died while we were
there. We drove two children and their mother to the hospital in
Segou who were diagnosed with malaria, then sent back home with
medicine. Many mothers came to me with their very sick children,
hoping that I could do something to help them, and I could do nothing.
In spite of the incredible hardship of insufficient food, lack of
nutrition, illness, death, and contaminated water, the people of
Zambougou were possibly the warmest, most hospitable, most
loving, smiling, and talented people I have ever met. When it was
time to leave, in one sense it was heart wrenching and in another
sense I felt very happy and greatly satisfied to know that we had
found a solution to provide clean water and health to these extremely
Our driver had driven Siaka back to Segou to report to Oumar Traore
and to price the well repairs and digging new wells. After leaving
Zambougou, we went back to Segou to meet with Oumar Traore. He presented
us with pricing for the work we wish to do. His office has the equipment,
the expertise, and the manpower to do the work and to support the
village with the changes. We agreed that MAP would work with his
office to provide the well repairs. Currently the price to dig two
new wells and repair the one pump is about $26,000. Siaka explained
that they would bring in a geo-physician, measuring machines to
determine the nature of the soil, the type of rock, how deep to
dig to have pure water that will last a minimum of a full year through
the dry season. Then, they would bring in a truck with a drilling
rig. This work was completed in May, 2003.
With great appreciation to all those who have offered support and
Karen Marx, Founder and Executive Director
The Mali Assistance Project (MAP)
Board of Directors of Witness, a Human Rights Project
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