Saturday, February 4, 2012

As Little As $10 Can Give a Villager Safe Water For a Lifetime

As you can imagine, the cost of water projects varies widely depending upon where in the world you’re working. The main cost-changing factors are:

How Easily Water Can Be Accessed

Level of Water Treatment Necessary

Cost of Building Materials (such as concrete and rebar)

Accessibility of Area

Depth of Well (if a well is to be drilled)

Number of Local Well Drilling Companies in Area (if drilling company must be hired)
For example, a relatively shallow well in Central America (less than 100 feet) can be hand-dug because the soil usually contains clay to help stabilize the sides of the well as it is being dug. It will cost $2,000 if there are not many rocks in the soil to contend with. If the soil contains many rocks, a hand-dug well may cost an extra $1,000 depending upon how many rocks must be dealt with. As you can imagine lifting up large rocks out of a hand dug well takes a lot of extra time and effort. In addition, hand pumps in Central America cost about $500 installed.

A relatively shallow well in an African country (less than 100 feet) will probably have to be drilled because the soil will usually be sandy and not conducive to hand digging. This well will have to be drilled (to create what is called a borehole) and will cost anywhere from $7,500 (with hand pump) if a group owns its own well drilling equipment to over $10,000 if you have to hire a local well drilling company.

A deep well in an African country (100 – 500 feet) will generally cost between $20,000 and $60,000 depending upon the depth and if an electrical-powered pump is required with a power source. Most hand pumps work well to a depth of about 100 feet; beyond that depth they can be difficult for women and children to pump and only specially-designed hand pumps can be used deeper than 100 feet.

So you can see prices of water supply systems vary widely depending upon conditions and equipment requirements.

Whenever possible, Global Water tries to find a safe water source that can provide not only a source of water, but also distribution simultaneously. This situation exists when we can find a natural spring on a hillside. This is the preferred water source for all our village water supply work in Central and South America since, once built, the entire system generally does not require any maintenance for its life of 20 years or so. The spring water will gravity flow from its location down to the village and most natural springs we find are microbiologically safe to begin with and therefore no disinfection is necessary, as well. Without a doubt, it’s the best source of water available for a water supply in the developing world. These systems cost between $15,000 and $45,000 depending upon their location. However, natural springs are not readily available on flat topography, a common landscape in many African countries.

The bottom line – Global Water strives to find the best water source available at a location that, ideally, does not require treatment and/or pumping. Therefore, natural springs are sought whenever possible to provide a water supply for rural villages in the developing world. If natural springs are not available, then water wells (drilled or dug) will usually provide the next best source. Whenever possible, Global Water hires hand dug well professionals (for hand dug wells) or strives to work with NGOs that own their own drilling equipment. This is how we are able to fund shallow water wells in some African countries (such as Angola and Namibia) for a price of only $15 per villager and in Central America for a price of only $10 per villager (see chart below).

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