In December 2012 the village of Sinthiou Souleye in the Sedhiou region celebrated their accomplishment of reaching Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. The USAID/Millennium Water and Sanitation Program (PEPAM) team, accompanied by the local partners, came to celebrate the certification ceremonies with the community. After the team took a tour led by the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) committee in the village, a woman emerged from the crowd, eager to share the story of her village.

Mame Coumba Seck, 33, explained that she had lived in the village for more than 13 years after migrating from the center of Senegal due to poor soil conditions. Mame recalled that when she arrived she had to build everything her herself. One of the biggest surprises for the new inhabitants of the village, including Mame, was the scarcity of water which quickly became an obstacle to any agricultural activities. During the first years in the village, it was necessary to travel more than two kilometers to fetch water from the neighboring villages. During the rainy season, they often used water from streams for drinking water.

The village came together and decided to dig a well so they could have access to water closer by. The work was long and difficult; the villagers had not imagined that they would have to dig more than 40 meters to reach the water table. The lack of water prevented the women of the village from developing or improving their living conditions. The women hoped that digging the well would enable them to better and more easily take care of their daily activities, such as bathing their children. Unfortunately this was not the case. Due to the depth of the water table, the women would sometimes have to wake up at midnight and wait at the well for over three hours for a yield of only two bowls of water.

While sharing her story, Mame Coumba was not aware of WADA’s policy of rewarding project villages who attain ODF status. Mame had no idea that WADA intended to reward her village with a new well. After much hard work and multiple attempts, Mame Coumba’s village had reached ODF status. The village beneficiaries reacted to the news of a new well with amazement and relief. The WADA project provides a means for the brave women from southern Senegal to create sustainable lives for them and their families as they now have more time for socioeconomic and community activities.