Monday, February 26, 2007

A trip to Gossi

The village of Gossi is splayed across a steep mountain range next to the Nigerian border. The soil is loose, dry and lacks nutrients leaving this farming community with low yielding crops and little money. The real problem though for Gossi is not its lack of revenue but it’s diminishing sources of water.

In order for a family to have water, women walk two to three kilometers down a steep hillside to a small well situated in a marshy crevice. It is not only hard and dangerous to get to but a breeding ground for mosquitoes and malaria. During the end of the dry season (March-April), the well dries up almost completely. Women have to form a line from the top of the mountain down to the well. When the women at the bottom of mountain see that the well is recharged they send word up the communication line to others in the village. The well is only a meter deep and slow to recharge. Due to the infrequence of the water supply, women fetch water at all hours of the day and into the night even. The trip to the well is perilous due to the steepness of the mountain and loose gravel, and at night that danger is only increased.

The sanitation of the well is a great health concern to the village. There is no cover for the well and its shallowness encourages bacteria and microorganisms to grow. The water then filled with microorganisms diminishes the villager’s resistance to illness and carrying agent for disease. People of the village have sited worms, diarrhea and severe dehydration as typical problems for the area.

The lack of quality combined with the lack of quantity available to villagers contributes to Gossi’s health problems. Because water is scarce farmers are not able to produce vegetables or fruits for their families during the dry season, creating severe vitamin deficiency and high malnutrition. Children already susceptible to deadly diseases, such as measles, spiral into grave illness because their bodies don’t have the strength to fight off the viruses.

The water problem of Gossi is severe but solvable. Right now Tourou’s water team of wants to improve Gossi’s existing well by digging deeper, refining the exterior and removing the stagnant marsh water that breeds mosquitoes from the area. The team also plans on continuing a new well dug near the village center and another well near a group of farms. This will increase the amount of water villagers will drink and contribute greatly to the quality to the quality of life in Gossi.

Right now, Leah and I are trying to finance Gossi and three other small villages with problems similar to Gossi: If you’re willing to donate to this project, leave a message on the blog. More information on how you can donate is on the way within the next days!

Inside the open well algae and other parasites grow. The village overwhelmingly agrees water quantity followed by water quality are the most pressing problems. It's obvious when the most common health complaints are related to dehydration (lack of quantity) and water borne illnesses (lack of quality).

The march down a steep slope battered by erosion is treacherous. When the well runs dry in April, women have to fetch water at night in pitch black unless they're lucky enough to have moonlight.

Leah stands by Gossi's sole well, which is only one meter deep. The well is in the middle of a wash next to microbe-infested standing water--a breeding ground for malaria.

Women carrying water from 1.5 kilometers away pass children, who accompany us to the only well in Gossi.


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