A New Stream of Hope

With the support of the US Fund, UNICEF has built 3 water pumps for a population of 4,000 people

By Diguera Azoura

« I named my daughter Radiyé, which means ‘I accept’ in Arabic, because I delivered the baby easily only a few hours after having drunk the stream of water coming out of the new pump. With this first name given to my daughter, I want to illustrate my enthusiasm and gratitude as we will be able to start another life thanks to the water pump”, proudly says Khadidja who stretches out her arms to get her newborn out of baby’s cradle.

Khadidja's removing her baby (Radiye) out of her cradle

At 31, and although she might look older, perhaps because of the vicissitudes of her life, Khadidja recognizes to be filled with joy, especially since she has gained easy access to water – as the new water pump is only 300 meters far from her house. Giving us her daughter, a beautiful 13-day-old baby, she continues to tell me stories from the past, when she had to walk long distances to get water, the elixir of life.

« Before, I was obliged to walk at least 5km to get water from the nearest Wadi[1], and that even when I was pregnant and about to deliver. It could take me by then more than 2 hours for the round trip”. Something that is not easy for this mother of 7 children aged 2 to 16 years, which would then lock the smallest ones at home before leaving for her daily chores. « It would break my heart every time I locked them up in the house alone, but I had no choice, » she explains, a little saddened.

Khadidja fetching water from a jar at her house

Khadidja has lived for 6 years in Haya Zouhour, a village in the periphery of Guéreda, which has received UNICEF funding for a drinking water tower. Since her arrival in this locality, things have not been easy for her life, she told us. « At the beginning, I swap with my two children (aged 10 and 12) to fetch water from the Wadis. But for almost four years, Khadija is bearing alone the heavy daily load in addition to other household chores, as she has decided to let her school-age children continue their studies.

Indeed, Khadidja’s eldest son, who is 16 years old now, still remembers the journeys to fletch water to a water pump located 6 KM far from his village. « Back then, we would go to fetch water in the Wadi with my sister Hawa (14 years), and  spend 1h to go and 1h to come back, without taking into account the fact that we had to queue at least 2h to be able to get only 60 liters sometimes ».

Khadidja Adam and her baby Radiye

For almost two weeks now, all these difficulties have become just bad memories for Khadidja’s family but also for most of the families in Haya Zouhour. This is the case of Koubra, Khadidja’s neighbor, whose child died from a water-related disease. After a long sigh, her head lowered – probably hiding tears – she adds: « We did not know that the water of Wadis was contaminated and contained bacteria, and this despite its bad clay taste and its dark color. I only understood this when I saw my 11-month daughter dead in my arms following acute diarrhea.”

Trying to be supportive, Khadidja passes her hand over Koubra’s right palm and says: « A drop of water is enough to create a world they say, and ours has just been recreated thanks to this new water pump ».

Beneficiaries leaving the water pump station N'2_ and water tower at their back

In Chad, almost 60%[2] of the population does not have access to safe drinking water in rural areas; with more than 38% of the rural population at risk of diseases due to unsafe water. The water tower and its hybrid (thermal and solar) immersed pump installed by UNICEF in Haya Zouhour will serve nearly 530 households –of 8 people each, within a radius of 5km, thus preventing close to 4,000 people from falling sick due to waterborne diseases. This facility will also enable over 300 school-aged children to focus on their education as they won’t have to cover long distances anymore to fetch water.

[1] Dry bed of a desert river

[2] EDS MICS 2014-2015

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