Where did this well project start?
It started in 2017 with our first visit to Kirinda, Uganda.
Each day we witnessed hundreds of children struggling up the hill to their village hauling water. . . some with jugs weighing up to 40 pounds on their heads.
At our farm, we just DON’T say “Somebody should do Something.” That Somebody is usually ourselves.
So in 2018, a well drilling expert was commissioned for $300 to assess the best location for a well. And there was great news. . . The local community center sits 300 feet atop an aquifer of clean water! That’s a perfect depth, as some wells need to be drilled 600 to 1500 feet. And you definitely don’t want too shallow of a well or the water is easily contaminated. BUT the best part is that the community center site is up on a hill with the village is just downhill! No more lugging heavy jugs UP a hill.
Then we got busy pricing well-drilling services. The rigs come from the capital city Kampala, a four hour drive, and cost $6,000. [ Ouch! ] Or, we could buy a much slower, but still capable, machine in Georgia for only $500 more.
The answer was clear. Instead of just renting to drill one well, we’d establish a community-owned drilling machine. After testing the machine at our farm, we exported it to Uganda in 2020.
During our return trip 2019, we walked and biked into the surrounding 20 villages, looking at all of the working and non-working wells.
Out of 11 wells, only 2 were operating. Some were very recent wells that non-profits had came in, drilled, then left without giving any contingency plan nor training for maintenance. The wells that were in good working order – one of them 30 years old! – were community-owned and operated, complete with each village having a board representative, and maintenance fees that were democratically agreed upon by the village members.
The answer was clear. “Our well” needed to be community-owned.
We went early to the well pumps and observed the lines of schoolchildren arriving and attempting to operate the heavy pump handle. Some were so small that they had to hop to move the pump handle! Our observation session quickly turned into a “pump for the little children” session. We walked back uphill, as healthy grown men, exhausted from the exercise.
The answer was clear. “Our well” needed to be powered by a solar pump.
The solar pump really increased the costs by $2,000, but we couldn’t in good conscience install a hand-pump.
So for three years now, we’ve been slowly working towards our goal of getting clean water to our friends in Kirinda, Uganda. We were so excited last January when our small well-drilling machine departed in it’s container for Uganda. Along with the Bore Master drilling rig (made in Alabama), the container carried 500′ of metal drill rod and drill bits for sand, stone and clay soils.