Farato Njobo Village Well Project – The Gambia
This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.
This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.
Farato Njobo Village, Central River Region, The Gambia
Farato Njobo is a village located in the Upper Fulladu West District of The Gambia. It is 13 kilometers off the main trans-Gambian highway via Bansang. The community is made up of members of the Fula tribe, the largest ethnic group in the Sahel and West Africa. Farato Njobo Fulani is predominantly subsistence farmers and nomadic herders. The community has 47 compounds and the entire community’s population is estimated at 1,559 people.
For years the community of Farato Njobo has been suffering from a lack of water. Using horse and donkey carts, as well as walking on foot, travel daily to a neighboring village to fetch water for drinking and cooking. To avoid the journey during the rainy season, people in the community often go into the bush to look for streams in which to launder their clothes. Given the water is often contaminated with bacteria, laundering clothes in streams is unhygienic and leads to skin irritations and disease. Moreover, while women are busy laundering their clothes, they often allow their children to take baths in the streams, as well as drink the water, increasing the rate of diarrhea.
Travelling a distance to fetch water for domestic uses also disturbs the children’s ability to go to school. When the children can attend school, they often arrive late after rushing to the nearby village to fetch water early in the morning. Very often, the burden of fetching water affects the students’ academic performance at school.
The women of Farato Njobo also describe the harsh conditions they face when they arrive at the neighboring village where they fetch water. They have to wait in a long queue until the neighboring villagers fetch water first before they gain access. This impedes their daily activities and seriously hinders their ability to do other work. Traditionally, the community milks cows in the morning to be sold in exchange for rice at the weekly market day called “Lumo” The rice the villagers acquire at the weekly Lumo is crucial to each village family’s caloric survival. The chore of morning water fetching diminishes their ability to produce milk, and hence their ability to acquire rice.
The Farato Njobo village project consists of hand-digging a well, lining it with concrete, covering it and installing a hand pump.
The contractor will first dig a hole of 1.5 meters in diameter using pickaxes, spades and a pulley. This digging, known locally as “dry digging,” will reach approximately 31 meters deep. Once water is struck, a rented diesel pump will pump the water out of the hole so that digging can continue below the waterline. This process of “wet digging” will proceed for another 4 meters below the waterline. Once that is complete, the well will be lined with concrete, covered, and a German hand pump will be installed.
The community will host and feed the team that will dig the well and will also participate in physical labor.
Mike McConnell, Managing Trustee, GambiaRising, and Former Country Director for Peace Corps in The Gambia from 2007 through 2009, and Emily Lundberg, PhD., Head of the Working Water program at GambiaRising, directed by Ebrima Marong, Working Water Gambia Project Coordinator.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Upon completion of the project, the Working Water Gambia project coordinator Ebrima Marong, supported by project coordinator Ismaila Cham, will work with community leaders and the water management committee of Farato Njobo Village to ensure that proper mechanisms are in place for the sustainability of the water system.
The contractor has offered to train the villagers on the proper use of hand pumps as well as the need to safeguard the system. This will help the community take good care of the hand pump so that it will maintain its durability. The selected water committee members will be inspecting the hand pump routinely to check if it is working properly.
A mechanism will be created in which community contributions will be collected and saved for future minor maintenance. The Working Water Gambia team will be in routine contact with the water management committee to ensure the system continues to function optimally.
Let Girls Learn
The Farato Njobo village well is geared toward promoting girls’ education. As the saying goes, “If you educate a boy, you have educated an individual; but if you educate a girl, you have educated a nation.” This project will have a great impact on reducing the workload for girls traveling long distances from their village to a neighboring village to fetch water daily before they go to school in the morning. If the community has access to enough clean water in their own village it will relieve the burden on girls as they will no longer have to travel each morning for water. This will also enable mothers to allow their daughters to go to school early in the morning without engaging them in other domestic chores.
A national case study was conducted recently that revealed the mass failure of girls in Gambian schools are caused by parents engaging them in housework before and after they go school. This severely limits their time to do their homework or other academic studies at home. In Gambian society, the pressure of daily domestic work always falls on female children. This project will relieve that burden.
Funds for this project have been contributed by an anonymous donor.