Field report by Mahamadou Ayouba Maiga, WASH Program Manager for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in Mali.
I am a rural engineer with a degree in Humanitarian WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) from the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Having already worked as a WASH infrastructure project manager and technical advisor for various organizations, I recently joined SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL as the NGO’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program Manager in Mali. This mission gave me the opportunity to coordinate and monitor the construction/rehabilitation of Improved Rural Hydraulic Systems (SHVA) in the Timbuktu and Ségou regions of Mali. These projects are funded by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
An SHVA is an installation designed to supply rural areas with drinking water and water for animals. It generally consists of a pumpoperated borehole connected to a power supply (solar and/or electric), a reservoir and a small standpipe distribution system (it can also include animal troughs).
To illustrate the feasibility and benefits of constructing/rehabilitating these systems in Mali, allow me to draw on a real-life example. The village of Boumodi, located in the commune of Nampalari (less than 30 km from the Mauritanian border), counts about 1,500 inhabitants, most of whom are Fula and large-scale livestock farmers (small and large ruminants). Prior to SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s intervention, the village only had one large-diameter pastoral well equipped to meet the population’s needs in terms of drinking water and animal watering.
The NGO carried out a pre-assessment of water points in need of rehabilitation, at which point the WASH team observed the presence of a nonfunctional abandoned borehole at the site. Taking into account the size of the population and number of livestock, SI decided, with the consensus of local authorities, community leaders and hydraulic technical services, to select this installation. It then underwent airlifting, pump testing, and bacteriological and physico-chemical analyses. The results of these analyses, combined with the borehole’s technical features, revealed an installation with impressive potential (25m3/h flow), of high enough quality to support an SHVA.
Working alongside its partners, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL fitted the borehole with a solar pump, a 20m3 water tower, four standpipes and two rectangular troughs, the objective being to meet the acute needs of populations and facilitate water access for animals. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL also helped set up a water point management committee. The infrastructure has remained in good working condition thanks to routine maintenance. Users abide by the payment method determined by the committee’s general assembly.
This project was made possible by the active involvement of direct and indirect beneficiaries, as well as the mobilization of community leaders, local authorities, and local and regional technical services. A formal collaborative framework helped define the roles and responsibilities of each party to ensure an effective intervention.
It bears noting, however, that SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL and its partners faced their share of challenges during this project—first and foremost, the deteriorating security situation. Given its proximity to the Mauritanian border, Nampalari often has to contend with incursions from armed groups. Dialoguing at the local level with field actors and relying on a strong local team with deep roots in the area enabled SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL to mitigate security risks. We also had to contend with deteriorated roadways which hampered the transport of materials and equipment to Nampalari. However, through anticipatory planning and close collaboration with local contractors, we were able to overcome these constraints.
These efforts enabled us to deliver a concrete, effective and sustainable response to populations affected by conflict in Mali.