Today was a whirlwind of a day. I was sitting at home, reviewing the requirements for my University of Waterloo work-term report when Foster, my counterpart and host-father bursts into the house clad in motorcycle gear and says, “Danny, we must go see the well. Time is against us.” So I strap on my motorcycle helmet and we jet off to Mwambazi, a village in the Timbiri Traditional Authority (TA), the same TA in which we live. It’s there that World Vision, an NGO that needs no introduction has funded the construction of a conference centre and nursery, and has hired Foster to install a shallow well to provide safe, clean water to the facility.
When we arrive, it turns out time wasn’t against us, and we are the first there so Foster shows me the well shaft which has already been dug and lined with bricks and cement mortar. Fairly quickly the rest of Foster’s construction team arrives and we get to work. The first task is mixing the cement with sand, gravel and water to obtain the correct consistency.
While the mixing is being done, Foster calls for the housing for the pump. The one provided for this job by World Vision is an Afridev model, a fairly standard and durable pump. This pump is however designed for boreholes and not shallow wells. The housing has 3 legs with jut down and are wide enough to support it in a borehole, but not wide enough for a shallow well. To compensate for this Foster places the housing in a hole, and fills it with sand. This will allow him to build the concrete skirt which protects the well above the level of the legs, which will simply hang down into the well.
Normally the Afridev pump is used for boreholes, which are narrower wells dug by a drill rigs. Boreholes go much deeper and are able to tap aquifers which are unreachable by hand dug wells. In the case of this well however the aquifer is very close to the surface, only two or three meters down and, as Foster puts it, “You could use anything to reach this water.” The Afridev is very durable, efficient at pumping and spare parts in the case of a breakdown are more readily available than any other pump model, that’s why World Vision has chosen to use it for this installation. It is however more expensive.
Next bricks and a sheet of plastic are laid down to give the apron shape, and the region is filled with concrete. Segments or rebar are added to the concrete, to increase it’s strength and flexibility. Once the mould is filled, Yolam Kamanga, Foster’s Nephew (who has also been trained as a Marion Medical Mission Maintenance Assistant for that NGO’s water points) smoothes out the layer.
Next, moulding for a second layer is added, and a shelf is created out of the concrete. This will allow a spillway to be added after the concrete sets so that water drains away from the pump and doesn’t lie stagnant allowing mosquitoes to breed.
The concrete takes approximately five days to set so we won’t be returning until Tuesday to move the apron over the open hole and complete the rest of the concrete “civil works” which surround a protected water point as well as install the pump. So there’s still much to do. Tune in next time for part 2!
To see all the pictures from today, have a look at the link below: