Wells for Burkina Faso
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Upon completion of the project, our implementing partner reported from the field…
This well was drilled in July 2009, and later installed with a pump in December. Sometime later, the water was observed to have red specks of sediment in it, it stained the concrete pad red, and gray splotches were appearing on the surface of the water, sometimes there was an odor to the water even. We first learned about this problem late in 2011, and by November we sent the 1st of 3 water samples to Ouagadougou for analysis. Results from the 1st sample revealed incredibly high iron levels. We pulled the old materials out of the well and found the galvanized metal pipes to be deteriorating at a rapid rate. We took a 2nd sample from within the well, and a 3rd after cleaning the well by pumping for more than an hour with a submersible pump. Both the 1st and 2nd water analysis revealed levels of iron that exceeded national norms for Burkina Faso. On the 2nd test, iron levels measured 5.30 mg/L whereas .30 mg/L is recommended safe level (that is 17 times higher than the acceptable level of iron in drinking water). After removal of the old rusty pipes and cleaning the well, the 3rd water sample tested .13 mg/L, safely within the parameters for potable water. Consumption of drinking water with high levels of iron can lead to iron overload causing damage to major organs, particularly people who carry the genetic disease hemochromatosis.
From November 2011 to April 2012, the last six months, the LWI Burkina Faso team has been in the process of diagnosing and solving a water contamination problem. Water analysis confirmed that the problem was the result of deteriorating metal pipes which were installed in the well, and not the water table itself. It was very sad and ironic to realize that a water well placed at a health clinic was actually leading people to get sick instead of healthy. Thus, it was also extremely gratifying to restore this as a clean water source with safe, potable water for the medical clinic to be able to effectively treat and care for the sick of Nakar. When the team arrived, community members were utilizing a river located one kilometer away from the community to meet all of their water needs. Because of this and the community’s practice of informal defecation, families were suffering from dysentery, typhoid and malaria. During the team’s stay, community members assembled a water committee consisting of seven men and one woman who assisted the team with the water project whenever possible. Most community members sustain their families by farming. The nearest school is located two kilometers away from the community whose students, teachers and administrative personnel all have access to the new, safe water source. Before leaving the community, the team provided community member, Achille Zongo, with a LWI Burkina Faso contact number in case their well were to fall into disrepair, become subject to vandalism or theft.
When the drill team returns to rehabilitate a well, the hygiene team reviews previously taught lessons: Hand washing, how to properly transport and store water, disease transmission and prevention, how to maintain proper care of the pump, as well as signs and symptoms of dehydration and how to make Oral Rehydration Solution. They also introduce possible additional lessons covering latrine perceptions, healthy nutritional choices, and review good and bad hygiene practices.
According to the latest UNDP report, Burkina Faso is ranked 161st out of 169 countries with comparable date in the United Nations Human Development Index. Poverty is pervasive throughout the country, and recent challenges such as outbreaks of meningitis, yellow fever, and cholera, as well as civil conflict in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, have only added to the extreme vulnerability of the Burkinabe people.
Only about 72% of Burkina's primary school-age children are enrolled in primary school due to the costs of school supplies, insufficient infrastructure and teachers, and opportunity costs of sending a child to school when he or she could earn money for the family. The landlocked nation has few natural resources and a weak industrial base. About 90% of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, and therefore vulnerable to periodic drought.
The country has an abundance of valuable water sources, but most pumps are either in some state of disrepair or altogether non-functioning. As a result of the lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation throughout the country, there is a persistence of waterborne illnesses like diarrhea and cholera. The most cost-effective and efficient way for TWP and our partners to affect change for Burkina Faso's thirsty is to rehabilitate these water sources: replacing hand pumps, repairing broken parts, sealing open wells—doing whatever is necessary to restore clean water to the people who need it most.
Nearly 20 years ago, LWI set out to help the church in North America be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the poorest of the poor. 600 million people in the world live on less than $2 a day. 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
In response to this need, LWI implements participatory, community-based water solutions in developing countries.
LWI is a former partner of The Water Project.