Washington DC, March 22, 2012Water—and having plentiful access to it—has transformed from dream to reality for those living on a slice of West Africa's most barren landscape.
So this World Water Day, Amman Imman: Water is Life celebrates. We celebrate the crystalline water that thousands of people living in Niger's Azawak region now drink each day. And we celebrate that many in the world have made water a priority: according to a recent report from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, Millennium Development Goal 7 has been met three years early by halving the number of people without access to clean water since 1990. "With water, there will be life," Ariane Kirtley, Amman Imman's Founder and Director, has always said.Amman Imman has seen this – life borne from water – in all of the work the organization has undertaken over the past six years. In partnership with local communities, global partners and school children from around the world, Amman Imman has brought four borehole wells to Niger's Azawak region, offering more than 100,000 people and their livestock a sustained supply of clean water.
All four water sources are now owned by the villages surrounding them, and water has become a great source of health, life and economy. At the first water tower, which stores water from a borehole drilled in 2007, one might notice the small school that rests nearby. By the second, one might observe women using the water to grow vegetables. At the newest borehole, completed just last month, one might hear women convening to discuss how money gathered from selling the water for a small fee to passing nomads should be used and saved.
This might be the first time the children have attended school, relieved of the marathon journey they once traveled to find water. And the very first time, in all of the villages with boreholes, where women have become decision-makers.
As Scott Johnson, a Newsweek reporter, wrote of his journey to visit the first borehole in 2009: "When I first went to the Azawak, I visited camps and villages that had no water. I saw Hell, and people dying. I then travelled to the Amman Imman borehole of Tangarwashane. There, I saw a Paradise amidst Hell. People had water to drink, eat and bathe. Men were using the water to grow crops, and even the animals were thriving. They now have a store from where people everywhere come to buy goods. The children were playing and happy, and a school had been built. These people worshipped their borehole. It was their God, and they took care of it like they would an Idol."
With these flourishing communities, we celebrate life.
In the coming years, we will celebrate, and we will work hard to bring thousands more people in the Azawak clean water and other assistance. We will work, as the world must continue to do, for the more than 700 million people who still live without access to the most powerful source of life—clean water.
AMMAN IMMAN: WATER IS LIFE
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