Niger’s desert is a sea of sand and stones beneath the sun’s relentless glare. Nothing is more important than water in this inhospitable habitat. KSB is working with an aid organisation to build wells, schools and health care facilities for the nomadic Tuareg people.
The Tuareg people in Niger inhabit the Sahara and the bordering Ténéré region. Even today, some still live as nomads, wandering with their animals and sleeping in tents. With rain being so rare in this desert region, they are always looking for new sources of water. Other Tuareg communities belong to the sedentary part of the population, who mainly live in small villages. Even there water is precious and difficult to access.
“We aim to help the Tuareg lead a self-reliant life in the desert.”
Founder and President of the Les Puits du Désert aid organisation
Supplying these people with water is the key to unlocking further development in many areas: Removing the laborious task of fetching water – generally a job for children and women – creates more time for school attendance and other activities. Agriculture also benefits: Fruit, vegetables and cereals are easier to grow and animals can be reliably supplied with water.
To support the population of these parched regions, KSB has been involved in the Les Puits du Désert (Wells of the Desert) project, which is run by the French aid organisation of the same name, since 2012. The company provides financial resources for the construction of wells in Niger through its French subsidiary KSB S.A.S.
“Since KSB is an international manufacturer of pumps and valves, it seemed a natural step to ask whether the company wanted to get involved in our well projects,” says Christel Pernet, founder and President of the Les Puits du Désert aid organisation. An enquiry from the dedicated aid worker was welcomed by KSB. At the World Water Forum in Marseille, both parties agreed to cooperate.
Developing new water sources helps the sedentary Tuareg communities to irrigate their orchards and vegetable fields and supply their families with drinking water. In addition, wells along the migration routes ensure the water requirements of the nomads and their animals are met.
Often the well projects provide a catalyst for other projects – and building sites. For example, a new building for the village school in Toubouheit was constructed in the vicinity of a well. Almost 40 children now benefit from a permanent school building. In Egarwey, KSB equipped the local school with tables and benches, while toilets and accommodation for teachers were also built. A women’s cooperative received a room which is used for many activities including cooking.
“We aim to help the Tuareg lead a self-reliant life in the desert,” says Pernet. Villagers therefore maintain the wells and handle most minor repairs themselves. This way they are not dependent on the help of technical staff who are unavailable locally. Where there is no electricity, solar-powered pumps are used to transport the water.
Availability of clean drinking water helps to reduce infant and childhood mortality in Niger, as diseases transmitted through contaminated water contribute to high child and infant death rates in the African country.
KSB’s employees can wholeheartedly identify with the project. Every two years they organise an additional fund-raising campaign for Les Puits du Désert in France. This supports the implementation of further projects which benefit the people of Niger.
To date, the aid organisation has provided access to clean water for around 100,000 people. But there is still much to be done. “We would like to set up 300 more wells and expand village infrastructure in order to improve the overall living conditions,” explains Pernet. KSB intends to continue supporting the aid organisation in this process.