The Heroics of Mamadou Diakhaté: Senegal's ‘Aquaman’ Providing Water to Villages

Young admirers call him "Aquaman" in a doff of the hat to the eponymous DC Comics character of the same name. But Mamadou Diakhaté is no fictional superhero with divine empowerment like telepathic control of all aquatic life. He's all flesh and blood, and heart.

A teacher by training, the 36-year-old Senegalese has devoted his life to digging wells in parts of his native country where it is difficult to get water every day of the year to meet domestic needs, irrigate farmland and rear livestock in many areas. Mamadou has already covered 10 of Senegal's 14 regions in the four years since his mission started.

In a country where rainfall tends to decrease, favoring the advance of the desert, his presence and commitment reassure thousands of people, particularly in the north. Last November, Philippe-Auguste Moundor Sène, head of the regional department of Senegal's National Civil Aviation and Meteorology Agency, said that by the start of 2024, the country would have experienced a drop in rainfall spread over only around fifty days for the whole year.This downward trend in water resources, coupled with the lack of water supply systems in some regions, prompted Mamadou to take action.
Diakhaté as a Teacher
Well Construction in Progress...
"When you are a teacher in Senegal, you mostly work in the remote parts of the country. It was in one such village where I was posted that something pushed me to get involved in the community's well-being," Diakhaté said in an interview. Like all such missions, funding was a challenge. Mamadou chose to try participatory financing, leveraging the power of social media to reach out to people and get them to play a role in the project. As contributions started coming in, the young do-gooder procured materials and surrounded himself with a team of people specialising in digging wells.

From the first well to the last one, it's always the beneficiaries who have approached Mamadou for help. Upon receiving any such request, Mamadou inspects the area to assess the urgency and practical feasibility of building a well. If the relevant criteria are met, the team gets going soon after Most of the wells dug by Mamadou's team are 25 meters deep and take around 30 days to complete. For "Aquaman" and his team, the greatest satisfaction comes from the joy on the faces of the villagers once construction is complete and the well is handed over to the community.

Mamadou's actions are not confined to digging wells. Aiming to get the community and the government more involved in resolving water supply issues in rural areas, he routinely attends symposiums and conferences. Several organizations have offered help as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments. One firm provided 15 million CFA franc to fund the construction of 15 wells nationwide.

While Mamadou is still to receive any public award, that's the last thing he would aim for. He is more focused on getting funding to scale up his project and benefit a more extensive section of the population.
Diakhaté at one of the beneficiary villages of his well project