Mission and Vision

Amman Imman's is dedicated to empowering and preserving Africa's most vulnerable indigenous peoples and engaging school children worldwide as socially conscious leaders.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anya Fonina: Running for Water to Help the Children of the Azawak

 Washington D.C. (October 31, 2010) --  Anya Fonina has a dream. She wants to make sure that the children of the Azawak Valley of West Africa never again thirst for water.  The Azawak is a region in the Republic of Niger devastated by persistent drought that has destroyed the herds of half a million nomads and forced their children to walk up to thirty miles in search of water.

To fulfill her dream, Anya is putting on her running shoes and will participate in the Marine Corps Marathon on October 31 in Washington, D.C.  She is dedicating her 26.2 mile run to the children of the Azawak, in memory of her father Dmitri, who passed away early this year.

Anya has reached out to friends and acquaintances, asking them to symbolically join her run, by contributing money to help finance the equipment needed to run the latest borehole-well built by Amman Imman, an organization that has brought water to the Azawak over the past four years, using advanced machinery to drill deep beneath the earth’s surface.

Anya's goal is to raise at least $20,000 for the families there, contributing significantly to a sustainable livelihood for them. Once there is water, many other opportunities arise -- in the form of schools, health centers, tree planting, etc.

Anya and her dad
"Everyone can do something to make the world a better place," says Anya, "and I'm inspired by the work of my dear friend Ariane Kirtley, who founded Amman Imman. I like to run long distances,  and along the way I'll be thinking of the children who must walk even further under much worse conditions, just to have water to drink. I am so happy with the response I've received from my friends, who have already contributed more than $15,000 to support my effort."

Not that long ago, the Azawak Valley was lush and fertile, with 5-6 months of rainfall. Nomads used to trek from one pasture to another with large herds of cattle and goats. Over the past decade, the Azawak has become a wasteland that receives only short bouts of erratic rainfall for a month or two each year. The people there have nowhere to go, and water gives them hope for a better tomorrow.

Amman Imman, one of the only organizations working in the area to address the water crisis, recently drilled its second borehole in Kijigari Village. Anya’s run will help pay for the remaining costs of the infrastructure, including the pumps, water fountains and animal troughs.  This borehole-well provides clean and abundant water to more than 30,000 people and animals.

Read more about Amman Imman, its efforts in Kijigari Village and how you can support Anya’s run.

Learn about Amman Imman's A Run for Water campaign, and how you can get involved, info@ammanimman.org.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fountain of Knowledge

Colleen Johnson, Service Learning Program intern at Amman Imman's Bethesda office, blogs about water for Blog Action Day:

Children wash at one of the Tangarwashane fountains in the Azawak of Niger, February 2009.  Photo by Ariane Kirtley.
Two months ago, Amman Imman: Water is Life was unknown to me.  I had recently graduated from University of Virginia and was working as a waitress in my college town for the summer.  Travel plans fell through last minute, leaving me with no plan for the immediate future.  As a recent graduate with no relevant working experience, I decided that an internship would be the perfect opportunity and a logical next step.  A hurried, no holds barred internship search followed; Amman Imman crossed my path and piqued my interest immediately. 

Amman Imman: Water is Life is dedicated to providing water and hope for those who have none.  The Azawak region is one of the driest inhabited places on Earth, and climate change has drastically shortened the rainy season, making the situation ever more dire.  As with any large-scale community project, building borehole wells comes with its share of opposition, especially from those on the polar ends of such issues as landscape preservation.  However, when this concern is placed alongside the fact that 500,000 people are entirely without water for about ten months per year, it becomes a non-issue. 

While the water crisis in most low-income countries constitutes lack of sanitation, hygiene and microbe / germ knowledge; inhabitants of the Azawak lack the very resource about which they must be educated.  Thirst is but one of the numerous and often-fatal consequences of clean water absence; children regularly miss school because of worms, diarrhea, caring for relatives and constantly traveling in search of water.  As such, there is no opportunity for education, nutrition, health, poverty alleviation, disease prevention, anything. 

Many Big Players (Spenders) such as World Health Organization and United Nations are aware of this global crisis and consider its eradication to be one of their top priorities.  However, money and goals are simply tools; without action they may as well not exist.  Of course, these organizations are facilitating the majority of the work being done; but as the problem still exists in its current and extreme magnitude, more needs to be done.  The only way to progress is to gain momentum traveling through public consciousness.  There are endless problems with the human condition that need addressing and dedication; however, ensuring that lives continue at all and that basic needs are met must come before any other improvements.  Change in action cannot happen until a change of mind has first occurred. 

The people of the Azawak have a saying, Amman Imman, Arr Issudar, meaning "Water is Life, Milk is Hope."  Before hope, there must be life.  Water.  Three borehole wells have been built since Amman Imman's inception, and consequently 75,000 people and animals have access to clean water.  However, the 425,000 who are not as fortunate are asking for our help; in turn, we are asking for yours.  Help however you can: volunteer, donate, spread the word; but most of all, think about it.  Foster genuine concern, and change is inevitable.

Water is not an International Issue. It's Global.

Christina Vernon, Operations Support and Development Intern at Amman Imman's Bethesda, Maryland office, contributes this blog post about water for Blog Action Day:

A major water source in Katmandu, Nepal. photo by C. Vernon

Currently I am an MPH candidate in Global Health focusing on Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation. I chose this field based on my main priority of working and living in a low-resource country and serving with community development initiatives whether relating to food and water security issues, social justice, or gender equity.

I first became passionate about water accessibility issues in low-income areas while I was an instructor for Indiana University’s Outdoor Adventure Program. Although I loved going to Red River Gorge, Kentucky to climb, I couldn’t help but notice that we were climbing in one of the most impoverished regions of the Appalachian.  People living there had no running water and were forced to collect water using buckets from a community pump. I was shocked to discover that this issue was not only international, but also just a few hours away from the university I attended.

A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Lesson in a Bangladeshi Village. photo by C. Vernon
This past spring semester I was afforded the opportunity to study in Bangladesh. While taking classes, I also assessed gaps in the BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program and designed a project implementation proposal on feminine hygiene issues in secondary schools. The director of BRAC WASH agreed to start implementing the project in one district of Bangladesh, which was exciting for my colleagues and I knowing that BRAC is the largest international development NGO in the world.

Interning with Amman Imman: Water is Life
Children digging in a marsh, Azawak, Niger.  photo by A. Kirtley
After experiencing health and its relation to water in Bangladesh, I really wanted to learn more about water security issues in other regions of the world, particularly Africa. When I heard about Amman Imman, it really excited me because I wanted to be part of an organization that was dealing with water security issues in Africa and working with vulnerable populations.  I hoped to work with a small, grassroots organization so that I could work with a small group of people all combating social injustices.

Amman Imman addresses water security issues in the Azawak region of Niger and Mali, where water accessibility is almost non-existent. Due to climate change, nomadic communities living in the region have been forced to settle, collecting water sometimes from places as far as 30 miles away. Most people, usually young girls, collect water in marshes where rain accumulates. In this region, 1 out of 2 children die before reaching their fifth birthday due to water borne diseases. The rainy season has decreased to about 1-2 months in the past few years, contributing to the scarcity of options for water accessibility. Amman Imman drills boreholes at depths between 600 and 3000 feet in order to reach the aquifer that is in the region, bringing water and a new hope to the surrounding communities. 

Interning with Amman Imman, has opened my eyes to the extreme water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa and the contextual variables of culture, economics, and social determinants. Amman Imman has helped me gain valuable skills such as advocacy, research, and passion, which are imperative in combating social injustice.

Work where no one else will, Amman Imman: Water is Life

Water and Health:
·      1.8 million people die every year of diarrheal disease
·      4.1% of the total DALY global burden of diseases is attributable to diarrheal disease
·      88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WHO, 2010)
·      Improving WASH in schools increases cognitive learning, attendance, and enables girls to stay in school
·      WASH programs in schools creates an anchor for communities to be mobilized
Web Analytics