Life-sustaining wells

In northern Niger, the Touareg people have to cope with harsh living conditions and constant water shortages. The "Les Ailes du désert" association helps them to survive by constructing wells for irrigation of market gardens and livestock production.

Humanitarian and Development


Jean-Marc Dupuis

38,000 € annually for three years to the Selection Committee at 2005/05/31
  Project leader Les Ailes du désert

«  I strongly support this project since it concerns sustainable development while also providing assistance to isolated Nigerian women (widows, divorced with children, etc.) experiencing social and economic hardship or who are sometimes even without any means of support. »

Jean-Marc Dupuis

In the arid conditions of semi-desert regions, life is one long battle to survive. The Touareg people know this better than most. In the Aïr mountain range of northern Niger, a number of them have joined together to found the Tidène association. Its aim is to help the local community, estimated to number 8,000 permanent residents and 4,000 nomads who set up camp in the mountain valleys as caravans come and go. In this region, the "Blue Men" are under threat from the spread of arid conditions and the collapse of existing wells.
The lack of irrigation points has been disastrous for the cereal crop which has declined by 90% in recent years. The shortage of wells also impacts on the survival of herds and livestock breeders. And the frequent sand storms hardly help matters: every year sees the collapse of seventy temporary wells which have been dug out by hand. Reconstructing these wells is a never-ending process.

Water, the source of life

However, these wells can be made permanent by simple cementing. That way they can continue to be used for market gardening which is a key source of income for villagers along with livestock production and crafts. The Tidène association has therefore decided to bore twenty wells for market gardens and install modern irrigation systems. Construction of the first well in 2004 enabled onions and tomatoes to be grown on a hectare of land. Tidène is now looking to take increase its production capacity by growing species of potatoes, garlic and wheat which are suited to the local climate. It is also planning to bore twenty rural wells which are vital for livestock production.
Tidène is being supported in all of these initiatives: it is being advised, funded and monitored by the French association, "Les Ailes du désert". This association has in turn requested funding from the Veolia foundation. 30,000 euros have already been granted for 2005: this funding will be renewed in 2006 and 2007. This contribution will cover the cost of constructing four new wells every year.