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Do you feel sufficiently informed about the challenges posed by the water situation in your country? Do you think that the situation can be improved?
As with all Sahelian countries, the encroachment of the desert poses serious problems for Mauritania. This threat mainly affects rural populations that depend on agriculture, but also has repercussions on urban areas. Indeed, more and more young people move to the capital city, and this rural exodus adds to significant population growth, which leads inevitably to an increase in the demand for water and the depletion of resources.
It is in this context that the NGO "Arbre," (link in French) with which I volunteer, has been working since 1998 to promote sustainable development and environmental protection by establishing sanitation systems and facilitating access to water.
Given that Mauritania’s ability to overcome these challenges depends in large part on enhancing citizens’ awareness, Arbre is organizing market gardening cooperatives and testing different watering techniques in order to streamline the use of water resources while increasing revenue for farmers.
With respect to reforestation and efforts to combat desertification, Arbre’s main objective is to create a sense of ownership among rural populations by explaining to them why it is necessary to establish rules and procedures that will help improve water management.
As a volunteer with Arbre, I conduct dissemination workshops to ensure that concepts relating to water resource management are simple and clear to all participants. I must also frequently engage in discussions with people to explain these concepts and ensure that they fully comprehend the long-term issues pertaining to water management.
I also draft documents and questionnaires that other volunteers with the NGO use to conduct field surveys. The survey responses and data gathered will help the NGO to analyze the situation in order to develop projects geared toward better water resource management in the respective villages.
I had the opportunity to work on the project aimed at raising awareness of the proven quality of the water in Dar Naim (a municipality in Nouakchott). This project allowed us to analyze non-network water distribution channels in the Nouakchott districts and the methods used by distributors. The research revealed widely varying methods that were inconsistent with rules of hygiene and cleanliness, the result of the lack of an appropriate regulatory framework, a failure to act, and indifference often shown by local authorities to the quality of the drinking water supply for citizens.
In addition to these local initiatives, as we are aware of the global significance of water, in particular for developing countries, my student friends and I are organizing public conferences aimed at informing citizens and leading discussions on water-related issues.
And you? If you have ideas, think them through and consider the best ways of bringing them to fruition. I would love to hear your ideas and your solutions. In addition, if you would like to share information about a project on which you are working, post it in the comments so we can all learn about it. Thanks in advance!