From Pixels to Pails, Crowded Holes Quench Thirst in Senegal's Drylands

By Ngouda Dione

PODOUR, Senegal – In the deserts of northern Senegal, women walk miles every day carrying heavy buckets of water from remote wells and rivers. Water shortages are so severe this year that many communities face a tough choice: irrigate your fields or quench your thirst.

This dilemma prompts builder and fundraiser Mamadou Dihat to intervene. Turning to the Internet, he set up fundraising campaigns where people donated money to build wells in water-scarce communities.

“There were water problems in many villages, and this issue especially affected learning,” said Diahat, who used to work on school construction.

“I met women walking 7 or 8 kilometers (5 miles) to get water for their crops. I knew we had to do something,” he said.

As factors such as global warming and deforestation dry out previously tropical regions, droughts have become 29% more frequent worldwide since 2000, according to the United Nations.

In a region with wells in various crisis states, Diakhat hopes the Internet can bring communities together to solve the problem of water scarcity.

His team has built more than 50 wells this way since 2020, and nine more are under construction.

“We only raise money online,” he said as he sat on a street in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, showing off his latest fundraising site to residents on the phone.

Although it currently accounts for only 0.1% of the global market, the total funding of campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa was Researchers at Pepperdine University estimated last year that it could reach $2.5 billion by 2025.

Villages like Ourou Amady Bagga in Senegal are already benefiting from one of Dikhat’s campaigns.

No longer facing severe water shortages, village chief Yoro Bubu Ba believes residents will soon be able to sell surplus vegetables, giving their community a much-needed economic boost.

“Communities…can’t do everything, and the state can’t do everything,” Diahat said. But we will continue to do our part and push these communities to live a better life.

(Reporting by Ngouda Dione; Writing by Cooper Inven; Editing by Nellie Payton and Christina Fincher)

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