Drilling safe water points

Drilling safe water points

We worked with our partners Yme and NorSom organization to drill shallow and deep water wells in rural communities in Somalia. All of the water drilling project’s implementing activity is overseen and managed by the WASH Project Technical Board from GSA, Yme and NorSom. This group is made up of leading experts in the field of water and sustainability (hydro-geologists & civil engineers). The WASH Project Technical Board meets quarterly to review and approve the selection of upcoming projects to be implemented by the organization in the coming quarter. The board reviews and approves site assessments, quotes, and planned action before a project is funded.

After projects are complete, they review completed reports, pumping tests, and water quality tests for each site.

Under the direction of the WASH Project Technical Board, The water project utilizes a GIS-based Project Management System that allows for the tracking of all completed water well projects, as well as in-process projects that have been approved by the Board and are under development. The WASH Project Team collects and continually updates background information on Water Quality Issues for each borehole drilled.

Your village gets a water project:

The walk for water that used to take everyone here more than three to six hours, now takes 15 minutes and the water is safe to drink. A hygiene worker teaches your village the importance of sanitation. Your community builds latrines and sets up hand washing stations. You join the Water Committee to oversee your village’s new water source.

As a woman, this is your first local leadership position. You use the extra time and new water source to start a vegetable garden and feed your family. You sell your extra food at the market. Your kids spend more time in school instead of walking for water. They graduate to become teachers, nurses or business owners. A nearby community learns how water changed your village. They petition for a water project too, and the cycle starts again. 

Water Project Life Cycle

The following are the steps in the GSA water project life cycle of completing a water project (though the general drilling and construction of the borehole and well, the numbered steps outline only those measures specifically relevant to the value of “sustainability”):

Identify and Qualify a Community in Need

GSA team employs nationals as “Community Development Officers” on the ground in every region the organization works in to manage relationships with drilling company and communities, and to oversee the implementation of all projects. These Community Development Officers collect and compile Assessments on all communities that GSA works in. Assessments must include the following data:

What is the Community Name?
What are the GPS Coordinates of the Community?
What is the Population of the Community?
How many homesteads in the Community?
What is the Current Water Source?
What is the Distance from the Community to the Current Water Source?
What Water-Related Illnesses has the Community dealt with in the Past?
Have there been any Water-Related Deaths in the Community in the past 5 years? If yes how many?

Based on the results of these Assessments, the WASH Project Technical Board determines whether a submitted Community qualifies for intervention or not. If they do, the organization proceeds to the next step in the life cycle of completing a water project.

Complete Hydrogeology Surveys

Prior to Surveying approved Communities that qualify for intervention to determine the best location to drill, GSA sample other existing wells in the areas the organization is contemplating installing a water supply and test those samples for any naturally occurring contaminants (i.e. microorganisms, major ions, fluoride and trace elements) that could cause future health problems for the Communities the organization looks to serve.

Conduct Hydrogeology and geophysical Surveys in the area to first assess the water table and aquifer of the region in which the organization looks to build, so as to assure the well installed is appropriate and will not overdraft the aquifer and destroy it before the water table has time to replenish when during rainy times. In addition to protecting the aquifer, this ensures that the Community always has an adequate supply to meet the needs of the population.

At this point, the drilling team drills the borehole, installs the casings, cements around the casings, and trenches to create the foundation of the base.

Perform Pump Tests

At this point, the Drilling Team inserts a submergible pump into the freshly drilled borehole and pumps for 24-hours straight. This allows the organization to assess the yield of the borehole to ensure that the water supply is adequate to meet the needs of the Community.

Perform Water Quality Tests

The Drilling Team then collects samples from the new borehole and ships them to certified laboratories for “water quality” testing. Clear water is not necessarily safe water. There are many naturally occurring contaminants (i.e. microorganisms, major ions, fluoride and trace elements) that can seriously harm an individual’s health and quality of life. Skeletal fluorosis, for example, is a serious health problem related to excessive accumulation of fluoride in the bones that causes serious deformities in the bone structure and making them extremely weak and brittle.

At this point, the drilling team pours the cement to complete the construction of the base, installs the pump, installs any necessary filters or treatments based on Water Quality Test Results, and constructs fencing around the well.

Engage the Local Community

The GSA always involves local Communities in its water well projects. Community involvement is a critical component to well sustainability. If an organization puts a water-well into a village without community participation and contribution (financial or sweat-equity), then sustainability, the effectiveness and the benefit of that water well is highly questionable.

Each Community must either contribute financially to the project in some way (feeding drillers/collecting to cover fuel costs, etc.), or they must contribute sweat-equity to the project in some way (clearing the bushes from the Surveyed and selected site, helping the drillers trench and pour concrete, etc.). This is critical, because it creates a sense of ownership over the project, rather than GSA just going into Communities and giving stuff away (We know this to be one of the most critical components for ensuring that Communities are committed to maintaining wells after GSA have left, because they have a personal investment in them)

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