Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Pumps of Contention

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Pumps of Contention

Article excerpt

CHAD is one country where women have to contend with both water scarcity and insecurity. The government, with the help of a few financial backers, installed water pumps in two northern regions, Guera and Ouaddai, where drought is endemic. Attitudes being what they are, however, women were kept out of the management side of things. During public meetings, they maintained a disapproving silence or merely acquiesced politely. In the village of Mangalme, they refused even to attend, saying they were not involved in "your pump business". After long discussions, they plucked up courage to say--even though the men were present--that it was up to those to whom the pump belonged to answer questions. It emerged from further discussion that the management committee, composed entirely of men, had been giving preference to water-sellers and herdsmen, obliging the women to go on drawing the water for household needs from the traditional wells. The wells were, however, from five to fifteen kilometres away from the village, and the women had to make the long journey weighed down with heavy water-jars attached to each end of a pole.

As for hygiene, we found out that in all the villages where there were pumps the runoff channel had been blocked to make a drinking-trough. The livestock drank stagnant water from it, or even out of the recipients that were being filled. When asked if their health had improved since they had drinking water, many of the women sarcastically replied that they were not doctors so they couldn't tell.

In another village, the men told us how satisfied they were. "Look," they said, "our women-folk have grown bigger and more beautiful since the pump was installed. It's great to see them getting some rest. Let's hope it continues that way, because it seems the pumps often break down in other places." As regards these breakdowns, Mariam, a fifty-year-old woman, told us: "We have a great deal to put up with. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.