In the desert Sahel region of northern Niger, only 7% of the population have access to a source of water within 5 km. Fetching water is a daily burden that falls most heavily on women and children, who sacrifice precious days on the task.
Convinced that access to water and the development of subsistence farming can play a major role in supporting economic and social development in the region, the NGO Tidène (Niger) and the association Les Puits du Désert (France) have been working on well renovation and construction for over 15 years. The construction programme covers two types of wells:
• village wells (1), located in the centre of a village for the use of families living nearby;
• wells for food growing (3). Equipped with a motorised pump, each of these water sources supplies a large garden shared by families to grow fruit, vegetables and cereals. Surplus produce—mostly onions and tomatoes—is sold at markets.
A third type of well is also set up by the Association. This involves the renovation of pastoral wells dedicated more particularly to nomads and their animals (2). These wells are located in the southern part of Agadez, in the middle of Ténéré (south of the Sahara) and are mainly intended for transhumant livestock farmers.
A population of 80,000 people reaps the many benefits of these facilities. The time saved on fetching water has improved school attendance to the extent that five new schools and a dispensary have been built. Women have organised themselves into cooperatives to sell their surplus produce. With livestock rearing and market gardening, new prospects are emerging for families’ livelihoods. Thanks to these well constructions and renovations, the region is being re-greened and benefiting from integrated development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The initiative, supported financially by the Fondation SUEZ, currently covers 276 wells. Two phases of the work have taken place, and a third is being planned for 2020-2022. The ultimate goal is to deploy a mesh of at least 400 operational wells.
 Founded in 2000, this NGO aims to promote solidarity programmes between France and Africa. It focuses particularly on access to water and education in Niger.
 Founded the same year, the association Les Puits du Désert (The Desert Wells) works in the Agadez region of Niger to help the most disadvantaged nomadic and sedentary populations. Its missions include improving access to water by building wells, reducing infant mortality with access to drinking water, access to basic healthcare and women’s empowerment.
This article was published in the seventh issue of open_resource magazine: "Sustainable food, sustainable planet"