Acute Water Shortage in Sare Ngai, Wuli West District

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Musa Bah

For the past three years or so, the rural community of Sare Ngai in the Wuli West District of the Upper River Regiion of the Gambia has suffered tremendously due to lack of clean drinking water. The village, which has a total of three hundred and twenty-seven compounds (327) and three thousand five hundred inhabitants (3500), had only one borehole from which they used to fetch water for all their needs.

It is also a centre in which a Lumo (Fula word for a weekly market) is held every Monday and an estimated six thousand (6000) people converge there from all over the region and beyond. People come all the way from Senegal, Guinea and Mali to attend the Lumo. Thus, the lack of water is not only affecting one village per se, but a whole region.

The borehole started developing problems three years ago and as a result, for the past two years a total amount of D360,000 had been spent on it but to no avail. Quite recently, another amount of D170,000 was also spent on it; yet, no improvement. All these amounts were from contributions from the villagers.

The borehole in the village was constructed there by the Saudi Fund in 2008/2009. However, since its woes began, the villagers have received no help from anyone. Neither from the Government of the Gambia (whose responsibility it is in the first place) nor from the Saudi fund (who were generous enough to donate it). The villagers have done what they could by contributing for its upkeep but it seems it has gone beyond them now.

The villagers have repeatedly reported this issue to the authorities (local government and other relevant officials) but as the Mandinkas say, ‘Kese mang bo jaba to). One can imagine the amount of suffering these folks are going through (the attached pictures can give a clue) and then think of what should be done.

It is quite possible that the only thing these people require is a simple technical guidance to resolve the problem. But if their reports fall on deaf ears, then they won’t be able to solve the problem, ever. It is the right of every citizen to enjoy basic facilities like water and electricity. The Government makes a lot of efforts to provide water and electricity to the folks in the urban areas but the rural areas are mostly forgotten or ignored.

It is important for the officials to remember that these people are the very ones who vote governments in or out of office because they form the majority. Politicians are fund of waiting till close to election time and then go and make tall claims in order to garner votes only to forget soon after. This is unfair and should be revised for this country to prosper.

It is the good fortune of the people of Sare Ngai that His Excellency President Adama Barrow has just begun his Meet the People Tour. He is likely to hold a meeting either there or in a place close to the village. They must therefore take this opportunity to bring to his notice the suffering they are going through. Then, if he doesn’t do anything about it, vote him out come next elections.

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