Mrs. Ouandja Kone is the president of a women’s water users group in northern Cote d’Ivoire. Her community of Ouazomon has almost 5,000 residents and is one of the largest communities involved in the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’s project to improve access to safe water in this dry and vulnerable region of the country. Here is the story in her own words.
A Serious Problem
The water problem in Ouazomon is very serious. There were three pumps in the village — all but one have been broken for a long time. We had only one working pump in the entire village – for thousands of people.
Women had to wake up very early, before the rooster’s crow, so they could try and collect enough water from this pump. When they could not, they had to go to the backwater far outside the village, which dries out during the dry season. That water is not very clean. A lot of people fell ill because of its water.
A Way Forward
I first heard of the Aga Khan Foundation when they came to the village with Ivoire Coton to explain that they wanted to build a borehole and a pump in the village. I was very happy to see that others were willing to help.
I started working with the water users group for the new borehole that AKF installed in August 2016. I was elected president of the water group by the other women.
The Greatest Satisfaction
I enjoy working with the association and thinking about how to best manage the water. All the women know each other and the challenges we have faced with the old pump. We were able to agree on a way to collect money for repairs when needed and to get the men of the village to contribute so that we will be able to meet the cost of future repairs.
It would also be good to have some help with restarting our vegetable gardening, now that we will have more water. We had to stop watering most of the gardens years ago when the pumps broke down. It would be good if we women could restart that activity.
I hope the project will help repair the other two pumps in the village so that all parts of the village can have access to a working pump. We are already very happy to have a new borehole and pump nearby. It is a great relief, especially for the women of the village.
I think the decision by the village to let us, women, manage the water pumps was a very welcome idea. We did not always expect that. It has been very good to be able to give our ideas on how the borehole should be managed, and have the support of our chief to do so.
In 1 year, AKF has improved access to safe water supply for 14,976 people in 13 villages.
All 13 boreholes planned for Year 1 were successfully installed, each equipped with manual hydraulic pumps.