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More Well Work

Today we will be repairing 2 wells located pretty far away within the district. One is at a community school and the other is at a government school.

A community school is one that comes about because a remote village decides to band together and build a school and staff it. But what usually happens is that once it is up and running the government will, after some time, assume the responsibility for the school. Then it becomes part of the government education system and they staff it and bear the responsibility.

Schools need water for their students etc. The village also uses the well but often we are taking about anywhere from a hundred to several hundred children are immediately effected.

We have come to this school because the council approached us about helping out with some repairs. I would estimate that it is somewhere around 100 km from Siavonga. This well has not produced water in some time. We were told a couple of months but it honestly looks to be longer than that. Many times when we ask how long a well has been down they will tell us a shorter period thinking that if they say how long we will decide to leave and not repair it.

You may ask: what do people do when the well is not working? Usually that means that they will have to start walking to the nearest well which is often several kilometers away. It a well is down for a long time and there is a great distance to water people will begin to move away from the village closer to water. That usually happens when the distance it too far and the length of time is really great (like a couple of years).

The well man that we are using seems to be really slow and the repair is taking too long since we have another well after this. The one man we usually use is really fast in comparison. So I jump in and speed things up while still leaving the “heavy lifting” to those from the village/school.

It does begin to move faster and at last we get the water going.

Everyone is really happy…especially the children.

My concern now is that it has taken so long we are now well into the afternoon. After a bite to eat we head out to the next well. Someone has said that there is a “short cut” to it. So off we go. But what we find is that the short cut is in distance. It turns out that the short cut is a really really bush road and it is slow moving along it. So it turns out short in distance but not in time.

It takes more than an hour by this route to arrive at out next well. By now we have maybe an hour before the sun is down.

This well has bad pipes. They have removed several that were too bad and it has left them with (almost) too few pipes. Some of the others are in bad enough shape that the water comes out very slowly. This is a frequent problem in wells where the pipes are deteriorating. Often the people will try to repair or patch them to keep the water flowing. That will work for a time but after a while it is insufficient to keep the well working especially if it is done more than once on the well.

Charles lets the well man know that time is running out and he needs to “step it up because time is going for us.

As it turns out there are only 6 pipes in this well. When we measure the water level we find that the cylinder is just barely in the water. So we will add pipes to 8. That should do through the remainder of the dry season. Once everything is in place you need to cut the last rod to shorten it and then cut threads in the end on which the put the chain for the pump. I have seen a well repair go really well until this point and then sometimes it can take an hour to get this part done. The threads must be cut with a hand die. The biggest problem is getting it started. Sometimes the end of the rod just strips away and no threads are made. That is what happens here. So everything needs to be disconnected (i.e. the water tank) and the pipe pulled up and the rod replaced.

By the time all this is done and water is flowing it is well past 8pm and dark.

We are probably 80 to 100 km from Siavonga. It will be late by the time we get back. In fact we arrive at Charles just after 11 and I do not get back to my room until just after 12. It has been a long day. We have traveled far and provided water for two school areas. Tomorrow we plant a church at Chitumbi.

More to come…

Mushale kabotu!


Siavonga, Zambia