FIA and West Africa
Words and pictures only do so much to describe the incredible need for water in West Africa, and never render justice to the amazing work that is happening through Friends In Action’s well-drilling efforts. Whether it’s the first time Christ’s name has ever been mentioned in a village, or it’s coming alongside a struggling church to demonstrate they are not alone, FIA’s work is so important to the national pastors and indigenous people of the region.
With 90% of the population being Muslim or practicing traditional animistic and ancestral worship, West Africa needs to hear about Jesus! Water retrieval is typically done by younger women and children within a tribe. In these remote villages, it is common to have to walk three or four miles to obtain unsanitary water while risking abduction, rape, and possibly even human trafficking. A village well means health, safety, and hope to these communities.
The site of construction workers and heavy machinery always draws a crowd! As FIA volunteers drill, partner missionaries or local pastors share the life-changing message of Jesus—the true Water of Life!
Learn About West Africa
FIA works with village chiefs and projects leaders, pastors and missionaries to determine where to place each well. The village takes ownership of the well by assisting in the well-drilling process alongside our staff and volunteers. They also assist in the installation of the pump itself and take responsibility for the long-term maintenance and care of the pump. After production is established, the villagers are trained in well maintenance and care. FIA’s two well drilling operation support teams consist of personnel and volunteers from Canada, Northern Ireland, and the US.
French is the official language of several countries in West Africa. Many languages belonging to the Sudanic family are also spoken, as well as many indigenous languages.
There are more than 340 million people living on the continent of Africa, of which there are many people groups in countries who have yet to be reached with the Gospel (nearly 30 percent of the entire population). Additionally, much of what is classified as “evangelical Christianity” in Africa is influenced to some degree by prosperity theology. Islam and Christianity are often practiced in tandem with African traditional religions. Traditional religions employ animal sacrifice and libations to lesser spirits to contact the creator god. Ancestor worship and divination aimed at controlling nature are also commonplace.
Country Specific Religious Diversity
23.2% Christians (19% Roman Catholics and 4.2% Protestant)
15.3% Traditional indigenous beliefs
0.6% have other religions, and
0.4% have none (atheism is virtually nonexistent).
West Africa represents some of the poorest countries in the world. One West African nation’s labor force totaled more than five million people. However, a large part of the male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for temporary employment. Approximately 85% of workers are involved in subsistence farming. There is unemployment rate data available, but nearly 50% of the population lives below the poverty level.
More than 80% of West Africa relies on subsistence agriculture, with only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services. Highly variable rainfall, poor soils, lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure, a low literacy rate, and a stagnant economy are all longstanding problems.
West Africa sees tribal infighting as well as governmental unrest and coup attempts. In addition, human and drug trafficking have far-reaching consequences. The total fertility rate is near 5.93 children born per woman, the sixth highest in the world.
West African cuisine is based on staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra. The most common sources of animal protein are chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish. A typical beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap; and Zoom-kom, or “grain water”. Zoom-kom is milky-looking and whitish, having a water and cereal base, best drunk with ice cubes. In the more rural regions, you would find Dolo, which is drink made from fermented millet.
FRIENDS IN ACTION INTL-USA (FIA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization firmly committed to good stewardship. Our work is supported by and dependent on the continued faithfulness of God’s people. Tax-deductible donations can be made using this secure site.