Villages in the Gambia’s provincial district of Niamina are facing acute water shortages, community leaders and residents say, pleading with authorities to come to their rescue.
Touba Mourit, a village of at least 1,200 people is hardest hit. The village is left with only one hand pump well. Residents have to line up to take turns to get water to meet mostly cooking, bathing and laundry needs.
The task that should take a few minutes takes villagers hours to get enough water for their basic needs lining up from morning until afternoon.
“We are always faced with challenges when the only hand-pump is out of service. That forces us to go to neighboring communities in search of water for survival,” said community leader Sambou Mbye.
“Touba Murite has a very large amount of domestic animals and most of the farmers to face challenges to get quality drinking water for their animals.”
More than 75 percent of rural Gambia leaves below the national poverty average and are unable to afford piped water in their homes.
They rely on public taps, funded by local and central government authorities. Most of the public tap services, including in the Kombos have been shut down by the state-owned power and water company, NAWEC.
The level of the groundwater is constantly sinking and there have been water shortages for a number of years. Total water withdrawal was 31.8 million cubic meters in the year 2000.
The largest user was agriculture with 21.3 million cubic meters per year, followed by the domestic sector with 6.9 million cubic meters per year and industry with 3.6 million cubic meters per year.
Surface water is rarely used as a source of potable water in the Gambia, because of the persistently saline conditions which exist in the lower reaches of the River Gambia and its tributaries, where the main urban areas and tourism facilities are located.