Drinking Water Wells in Thanamalwila

Construction of hand dug shallow wells for drinking water began in 1996 with collaboration and financial sponsorship from Simavi, NL. It continued with support from Berkel and Rodenrijs and Wilde Ganzen. There is a high level of beneficiary participation in this activity and is the most effective way of providing safe drinking water to dispersed communities in these remote areas.

Safe drinking water is urgently needed for the population. During the time a wewa stores water it is used for bathing and laundry and for livestock as well. But a safe drinking water supply is not easily available and people are often in the position to only obtain their drinking water from the wewas. The situation becomes grim for five months or longer, when the wewas dry up and water is very scarce. There is no pipe borne water so people get their drinking water from shallow unlined wells and waterholes near wewas and from seasonal streams. In the dry season people, usually women, must walk long distances to collect a little water.

The wewas have raised the ground water tables so that water can be taken from shallow hand dug wells. The improved water resources and an active community offer an opportunity to capitalize on the interest and the energy generated to construct shallow wells near the wewas. Existing wells are usually just a hole in the ground amongst tall grasses, often without an apron and prone to collapse. So, the people sometimes put in a lining of hardwood themselves. In all cases the water appears clean and no incidents of water borne disease are reported. The community contributes a lot in planning and constructing the wells. This ensures that they will take good care of the wells and surroundings.

Simple hand dug wells can be lined with concrete rings made on the site. Water from some wells is polluted with high levels of natural fluoride which damage the bone and teeth of children. FfP is surveying the local wells for fluoride and pinpoints those wells which can be treaded with filters that use broken bricks to remove fluoride. These low tech filters are made locally by the project.