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 the 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!

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Learn About West Africa

Over the last decade, FIA has provided more than 60 wells a year to rural West African villages. Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to purchase two new drill rigs in recent years, allowing us to reach more people more quickly with life-saving water. One well provides clean water and an opportunity to hear the Gospel to about 500 people. This means that conservatively more than 30,000 are given physical and spiritual water each year!

FIA works with tribal chiefs and leaders to determine where to place each well. The village takes ownership of the well by gathering sand and material for the pump location. After production is established, the villagers are trained in well maintenance and care. FIA’s well drilling teams consist of personnel and volunteers from Canada, Northern Ireland, and the US.

As efforts are doing deeper into remote locations and safety issues in the region continue to be a concern, FIA plans to build a base of operations to house critical equipment and provide lodging for workers. In addition, funds are being raised to provide a vehicle to take teams of up to 10 people, their luggage, and supplies to evangelize in remote villages and under-developed areas.

Friends In Action, Intl. has been involved in well-drilling efforts since conducting hydrological surveys on the Ivory Coast of Africa in 1997. The first well was completed in August of 2001 at a depth of 175 feet. Due to civil war, FIA moved our efforts into Ghana in 2003. By 2004, we also undertook two bridge construction projects and built a clinic/doctor’s house with the Tanda people in Guinea. Due to civil unrest, as well as evidence that the Gospel had begun to infiltrate Ghana through English-speaking missionaries, FIA relocated well-drilling efforts again to West Africa in 2007.
Our field leaders in West Africa partner with missionaries and indigenous people on the ground to ensure that the construction efforts are part of a larger plan of sharing the Gospel.

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Life in West Africa is hot, dry, and dusty. Having fresh, clean water available is not an easy task. Typically, the rainy season lasts for five months at most, after which there is no rain until the next year. For the remaining seven months of the year, if you want water, you must travel to find it. In bondage to their ancestral and animistic traditions, many West Africans doubt that FIA’s well drilling efforts can be successful without reading chicken entrails or animal sacrifice through the local spiritual leader. When water does come, it is a powerful testimony to the one true God and His care for them.

Land-locked nations on the western coast of Africa


362 million


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 in Africa living among people groups 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 are to contact the creator god. Ancestor worship and divination aimed at controlling nature are also common place.

60.5% Muslim
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.

Source: Wikipedia


Pray for West Africa

PrayPray for wisdom as we seek to demonstrate God’s love to West Africa and also that the Lord will guide and provide for even more well drilling.

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Give to West Africa

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.

Give a one-time or recurring gift to FIA’s work in West Africa.


Go to West Africa

You can volunteer and get engaged in the work that God is doing in West Africa. For more information and future dates, email Matt Durkee:

Visit our Short-Term Trips page.