In 1994, the EU set up central water supplies in some villages in Senegal and The Gambia. The aim was to replace the traditional open wells which were scattered over the village by a central, covered well. Open wells are a permanent risk for contamination.
The main well has a photovoltaic driven pump. The water is pumped up to a water tower and then distributed to the village through network of pipes. Water taps are not installed in the individual compounds, but at the crossings of village roads.
After the projects where completed, the responsibility for maintenance was handed over to the villages. Unfortunately, the water committee of Salikenni did not establish sufficient structures to collect funds for repair, maintenance or the replacement of components. So it came as no surprise that after 20 years the solar panels where approaching the end of their life and the pump got rough-running. Whenever the sky was even slightly cloudy, there was not enough energy to pump water into the tank. In addition, the water tank itself was leaking and the precious liquid was flowing out of the tank seeping into the ground.
Although the project of the water supply renewal exceeded the budget of our charity, facing the Ebola epidemic in the neighboring countries, we felt that we had no choice but to become active.
In spring 2014 Dorothea von Renesse and Klaus Deiss made contact with the water committee and offered to finance the renewal of the system by granting an interest-free loan.
Quickly, both sides reached an agreement. Our Charity contracted the Gambian company Gamsolar to equip the leaking tank with a customized inliner and to replace the solar panels and the pump for the total cost of 675,518 Dalasi [12.720 EUR]. The village agreed to pay back the loan in annual installments of 100,000 Dalasi [1.883 EUR]. That requires from every household a contribution of 25 Dalasi [0.47 EUR] a month.
Finally since November 7th water is flowing again and the villagers are relieved. During the last five weeks not a single drop of water came out of the system anymore and some people had to walk two kilometers to reach the next well.
We are happy that a regular water supply for Salikenni has been re-established. The outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in the neighbouring countries has again made us aware how important basic hygiene is. And there is no hygiene without clean water!