The hand-dug well on the Cassava Farm serves the Makuta Oil Palm Garden community, including farmworkers and their families, local residents, and the local school with water. It is located in the middle of the garden, with most homes being at least 1/2 km away. Because the entire region is suffering from a water scarcity crisis, more and more people have been making a pilgrimage to the Cassava Farm in search of water. So although only 150 people live on the farm grounds, the need for its water is increasing day by day.
"I get daily complaints from my farm helpers that the number of people coming to the farm has greatly increased," said Martha Campbell, a local teacher and farm owner.
Additional water is used during the harvesting and processing of palm oil. The palm trees are neatly arranged in rows with enough space to maximize the yield during harvest. The well is pushed to the limit, especially during the harvest season when drums upon drums of water are needed daily. Each drum of palm kernel ready to be boiled uses an average of 6-7 twenty-liter rubber buckets.
The current water crisis has brought a need for more hand-dug wells to be converted to boreholes. This well is one of a few that was a lifesaver for the people in the community. The issue was not that the well was unable to serve its beneficiaries. The real issue is people coming from neighboring communities when their hand-dug wells fail them. A scoop hole at the nearby swamp has become imperative for watering the plants in the garden and meeting other household needs when the demand is too high at the well.
"As a student, my responsibility is making sure there is enough water at home for drinking and cooking. The well is practically on our doorsteps with no interference until it is during January, February, and March. These are the driest months, and some changes can definitely be seen with the water table in the garden," said Alie, a 17-year-old young man.
The conversion of the hand-dug well to a borehole will ensure a plentiful, continuous flow of water all year round without the well running low during the dry season.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
The well marked for this overhaul is dry for a few months every year and needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the community year round. The pump will be removed, and a hand auger will be lowered inside and powered by a drill team. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a sufficient water column that will ensure the well supplies water throughout all seasons.
As the team drills, casing will be installed, transforming the bottom of this hand-dug well into a borehole. PVC piping will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a construction that we know will also improve the quality of water.
Once this plan is implemented, everyone within the community will have access to safe drinking water in both quality and quantity, even through the dry months.
Hygiene and Sanitation Training
There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered for three days in a row.
After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach community members how to build a tippy tap (a hand-washing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for handwashing demonstrations, and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.
These trainings will also strengthen the water user committee that manages and maintains this well. They enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.