Water for Life Voices

Voices from Civil Society Organisations

Ariane Alzhara Kirtley
Founder and Director, Amman Imman: Water is Life

Ariane Alzhara Kirtley

"Inequitable access to plentiful quantities of quality water across the globe has grown rather than diminished over the past ten years. The world’s wealthiest nations -- dotted with sophisticated infrastructure and technologies – tap deeper and deeper into the hardest reached water reserves in order to provide a seemingly overabundant stock of water to their populations. The world’s poorest nations – with limited technology and resources – continue to struggle to counter the devastating consequences of severe climate shifts and other environmental factors, extreme poverty, overpopulation, and fragile governments. Consequently, both their urban and rural populations often have access to insufficient quantities of water to drink, cook and bathe with. Sanitary infrastructure follows the same trend.

While water remains seemingly readily accessible in wealthier countries, the past ten years have witnessed an alarming growth of use of this precious resource for agriculture and industrial production, as well as for household use. As water continues to be overused at an unsustainable rate, the global north may also soon face the reality of water insufficiency.

In the global south, water insufficiency and overall lack of access has been compacted by dramatic climate changes, particularly over the past decade. Our organization, Amman Imman: Water is Life http://ammanimman.org/ works among some of the populations that face this harsh reality. For instance, the 500,000 people living in Niger and Mali’s Azawak Valley used to rely on marshes formed through accumulated rain water to meet their water needs. Indeed, ten to fifteen years ago, communities had sufficient water, as five months of rainfall created long-lasting marshes, and provided West Africa’s lushest prairies with overabundant grass. Over the past ten to fifteen years, rainfall has dwindled from five months to three months, to now less than one month out of the year. Marshes stay dry for all but one or two months out of the year and populations spend their time travelling over 50 kilometres a day searching for water. Underground reserves are over 200 meters deep and impossible to access without expensive technology. Consequently, one out of two children die before age five, and at least a quarter of these deaths are related to lack of water, or to poor water quality. The changes that have taken place over the past ten years have been so dramatic and fast, that populations and governments have not had the time to adapt and find sustainable solutions to the severe water insufficiency.

Since its inception in 2006, Amman Imman: Water is Life (AI) has worked as the pioneer organization committed to providing access to quality sustainable sources of water to Africa’s ethnic minorities suffering from severe water scarcity. In the Azawak Valley of Niger and Mali, our organization has brought sustainable improvement to the lives of tens of thousands of people through the creation of “Oases of Life”. These points of civilization begin with the construction of 600 foot deep borehole wells, and to date serve more than 100,000 people and animals. While the water is available to all, the boreholes are managed by a community-run management committee that ascertains upkeep and proper use of the technology. Once a borehole has been established, AI conducts skills training among adults and youth, reforestation, sanitation, food security programs, and women’s empowerment projects. AI also builds schools and gardens, and launches health initiatives that focus on vaccination campaigns, malaria prevention, reproductive health, and health education whereby traditional healers work alongside local nurses and health workers to ensure long-lived community health improvements. AI partners with the government and encourages other organizations to support the communities it works with.

Access to quality water is a fundamental human right. Without water, there can be no life; there can be no hope for a future. Making this right a reality to all must continue to be a global priority. Amman Imman’s goal as an organization is that all the communities where we operate have access to sustainable and potable year-round sources of water by 2020. Our dream for the world is that water insecurity is eradicated by 2030. This not only means providing the world’s populations with sufficient quantities of quality water, but it also entails that the world’s wealthiest countries become more conscious and conservative with regard to their use of water, in order to preserve the precious water resources that exist. We hope that sustainable technologies for accessing water become more widespread in both the global north and south – particularly as water resources becomes increasingly scarce. Finally, we want to work towards a future where water resources are equitably shared, and people of many nations work together with respect for each other and our planet. "

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