Saturday, April 19, 2014

Village Visits: Water

Water Is Life. I first heard that when I was living in Uganda, and the saying has become universal. Our work here has focused primarily on the rehabilitation of broken boreholes - boreholes where the technical capacity (a Pump Mechanic) was unavailable. This could be for many reasons - there are no trained Pump Mechanics, there is no money to pay for the rehabilitations, there is no transportation to get the spare parts to the community - the list goes on and on.

A borehole rehabilitation could be a simple fix of the concrete platform (damaged and broken), or it could require more technical repairs like replacing GI pipes inside the borehole. One of the biggest causes of damage to the platform is animals. Here in particular, basins are built at the end of the platform for animals to drink.

It's easy to see the problem. Mud, animals, barefooted children - diseases can spread easily. Even the cow was having a hard time getting to the water, sinking in the mud. The site really needed a soak pit - a deep pit filled with large rocks and covered with a plastic sheet. Water can go into the soak pit from the platform and soaks into the ground, rather than making a huge mud puddle.

When a borehole is rehabilitated, a Water User Committee within the community is trained. WUCs learn about financial planning and management, collection of user fees for maintenance of the borehole, and proper use and preventative maintenance of the borehole. We encourage communities to build fences around the borehole to keep animals away, fences that keep the animals towards the end where their trough is built, and not walking on the platform.

In a desert region like here, really the only viable water sources are boreholes. Surface water is rare (because it's dry), and hugely contaminated, used for everything from laundry to bathing to water for animals to washing vehicles and fishing. But a borehole provide a safe, reliable source (when the borehole is functioning properly), and people take pride in their water points.

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