While we were in Burkina Faso in January 2020, someone gave us a request for a well to be drilled. The place was a suburb of a small town. In some parts of the town, clean water is available. However, the form told us that, only about two miles away, people were still using the open well which was there.
We decided that we would have to investigate!
The form told us that there was a proper well about 30 minutes walk away – but this well is often broken. It must be dispiriting to spend 30 minutes going there and then finding it is broken. If it is not broken, it is likely that there will be a queue of people waiting to use it.
The route took us out of the town, past a school and over a causeway. Either side of this causeway, there were dried out marshes. The information on the request form told us that people sometimes extracted water from these marshes. That would mean digging a hole and waiting for the hole to fill with water. It can only be vaguely imagined what the water would be like. It was actually a relief to know that it would be too dry to use for water now.
The “village centre”
Just after the causeway, we turned right off the concrete road onto a dirt track which took us into the “village centre”. Please don’t image St Mary Mead with thatched cottages, a village green and a cricket match going on! This is a very poor suburb of the little town. There are no proper roads. The buildings are poor and probably have no foundations. The primary school building is the same.
Then we saw two ladies using the open well. It looked to be well made with a pulley and rope to help the ladies fetch water from quite a depth. They worked together. One lady let a container down into the water and pulled it up. The second lady emptied the water into the containers and bowls they had brought with them. They have the routine well practiced – you can watch a video on this link.
What type of water do you get when using the open well?
We took a picture of water in a bowl. This is the colour of the water. Fancy a drink? Neither did we. But this is what these people will have to drink – unless the well 2km away is working and the queue is not too long. This suburb is home to about 900 people. The well 2km away is on the other side of the concrete road and there will be about the same number living in that suburb as well.
At the moment, people here are still using the open well. If we don’t fancy drinking this water, we don’t think other people should have to. If we have funds available, we will try to put a proper well here so the people no longer have to be using the open well.
Myra’s Wells promise
All money given to Myra’s Wells is used 100% to provide clean water. Any other costs are met by the trustees personally.