We all know how important water is for life in general. However most of us may not always be aware of it, taking water for granted. Just open the tap and it’ll be there!
In Mali nothing is ever guaranteed.
(Having said that, it never is anywhere, but at least many have the illusion it is.)
Including water being available.
It must have been only a week after having moved to our new house, when I arrived home on a Friday afternoon, finding out there was no running water. The courtyard’s caretaker, Moussa, informed us that the water company had closed it down.
‘Electricity is still there’, he happily added.
Phoning our landlord, Ibrahim was told that a previous tenant of one of the other apartments had moved out, leaving behind a huge electricity bill, caused by the use of an air conditioner he had installed.
I have no clue how our landlord managed to get the water company to send someone over (since they are closed on Friday afternoons) that same day, but Ibrahim’s remark that it did not give us a very good impression of the situation here and that it would not contribute to staying long time, may have urged him to take action. We were back to running water that same day!
Not for long though…
No water running from the tap on Sunday afternoon. What a bummer! I already grabbed my phone to ask Ibrahim to call the landlord, when Moussa started gesturing to get my attention. In poor French he managed to explain that this time it was an all over the neighbourhood cut-off.
Ségou had just hosted the annual Festival sur le Niger, which had attracted a huge number of visitors, all of them using water of course. A shortage of water had apparently occurred, which was solved by cutting off every neighbourhood for part of the day during a week or so.
So, our landlord sorted out the outstanding bills, the water company was solving the shortage problem, how big the surprise was to get home a few days later and find the garden tap locked.
Our neighbour on the courtyard, an older lady, was so done with all the youngsters and inhabitants of the neighbourhood entering the courtyard, carrying out a bucket of water, that she had decided it had to stop. And it needs to be said, her solution was very effective. The lock having only one key, kept by her, was not the most practical though.
So, we changed the lock. The lady, Moussa and we being the key holders.
It worked. For a while.
Just until she traveled to Bamako and Moussa decided to no more close the lock whenever he had opened it. After all they are his friends coming in for water to wash their motors and take a shower. And many of them have been complaining and laughing about the lock and Moussa is very sensitive to the opinion of his friends…
He is back to locking the tap, though, probably fearing the upcoming bill.
Being on the brink of the hot season and the water level in the river being low, we’re back to regular all-over cut-offs as well as to low pressure. It’s time to fill up some jerry cans!
Water, precious water, we do not take it for granted, but are very grateful for it!