Water, health, access to school,… in DongaIt is one of the most effective formulas to promote development in small populations lost in the undergrowth of northern Benin. Villages in which women don’t have enough hours in the day to get unhealthy water, firewood or food for her and her children. Tasks in which they are forced to involve their sons and daughters who, therefore, cannot go to school.
The solution starts with the financing of a well. Then will come the orchards or the micro- finances and the school afterwards. That is the sequence that allows us to provide the inhabitants of these populations with a better future. A future that will be in their hands thanks to their work and your help.
Holes with foot pumpDuring the years that we have been working in the north of Benin, we have financed the water supply in many villages. In some cases with simple wells and in others with deeper perforations and therefore with a guarantee of greater supply and a higher quality water. On this occasion we want to finance holes deep enough so that the supply is guaranteed during the 12 months of the year. Something that most of the time does not happen with shallower wells.
This time we also want to try to move forward more quickly. We always try to involve the populations in the financing of the projects. Normally with materials available in the area. Things that they can get with their work and can help to lower the total cost to be financed. In a perforation, the work is done by a machine so it is more difficult to determine that participation. Well, we have thought to request the village the cession of a land near the point of water supply and ask them to take care of the fence with materials such as canes and palm leaves, so as to avoid the passage of animals that could destroy the work of women, since we intend to dedicate that land to community orchards.
Community orchardsIn most of the rural regions of Africa, women do not have access to land ownership and therefore can only aspire to work on their husband’s land without being able to seek fair compensation for their work. That forces them to have to use their sons and daughters as a workforce to get firewood, water for family consumption, … as their mothers used to do with themselves.
Once the water becomes close, accessible, healthy and abundantly available, the next step must be taken. It is necessary to ensure that women (mothers) have a decent job that allows them to improve their children’s nutrition and free them from domestic tasks so that they can go to school every day. This is achieved by organizing community orchards around the well, in which each woman has an iron that allows them, through their work, to obtain income for their precarious economies while, through self-consumption, they can improve nutrition of her sons and daughters.
It is therefore an action that meets very diverse objectives. On the one hand it is a question of the promotion of women where mothers are able to have a job that allows them to earn a living with dignity. In parallel, the accessibility of healthy water implies that family health improves by avoiding infections derived from water in poor condition.
The third expected effect is that all the children and especially the daughters of the women who work in the orchards, will be able to go to school every day, as the barriers that previously forced them to have to help mothers in domestic work or to collaborate in the precarious economies of survival in which they were, disappear.
Goal of the projectWe need about 13,200 euros to ensure water supply through a perforation and together with a solar pump, a high-level tank and its corresponding solar panels, being able to irrigate an area of approximately 1.5 hectares, enough to have between 80 and 100 women working on it. That means, of course, between 80 and 100 families. In this sense it is necessary to remember that in Benin the average of children per woman is 5.5. This brings the number of direct beneficiaries of this project to more than 600.
Once the water supply to the population is assured, it will be necessary to fence the land to prevent the animals from destroying women’s work. That will mean an investment of another 5,000 euros, which together with the investment needed for the implements (hoes, showers, …) and the water tanks at the foot of the orchard (2,500 euros), will raise the total investment needed to 20,700 euros. An investment that will radically change the autonomy of women as well as the health and schooling of the children.