Restoring Water Supply

Jeremy Mak

Jeremy Mak. Photo: Jeremy Mak

When Jeremy came to The Gambia he quickly realized that access to safe water was something people were missing. Particularly in a warm country this provides a huge challenge.

– Although I was sent to The Gambia to help locals develop agroforestry techniques, I discovered that their more basic needs were directly related to water, says Jeremy.

Broken hand-pumps
What he also saw was that there was not necessarily a lack of water in the area. The main problem was that hand-pumps for the wells previously drilled were broken and nobody was able to fix them.

– Numerous governmental and aid agencies installed hand-pumps in Gambia’s Central River Region in the 1990s to provide clean water for rural villages. However, virtually none of these organizations have implemented an effective village-based strategy to maintain or repair pumps, says Jeremy.

Blue Pump. Photo: Jeremy Mak

Blue Pump. Photo: Jeremy Mak

As a result many pumps lay in disrepair and ruin. As a result women and children have to pump longer or walk farther to find other water sources – often unclean, which results in less time and energy for school, child care, farm work and other income generating activities.

5,000 people helped
Jeremy took on the task to repair these wells to restore water supply to the villagers. He got in contact with Water Charity that could provide funding from The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust for two projects:

  1. Sinchu Jaabo and Kaani Kunda Pump Project
  2. Choya, Si Kunda, and Kalikajara Pump Project

Initially he set out to fix seven Mark II hand pumps for five villages, but through hard work ended up repairing 14 Mark II hand pumps in seven villages. As a result, 5,100 people got access to clean water.

Blue Pump repair 2

Easy pumping. Photo: Jeremy Mak

With the success of the first project, Jeremy set out for another project to repair wells for three more villages. This time, he got access to a new hand pump technology called Blue Pumps. These are easier to handle and have a better water flow.

Again, Water Charity provided funding from The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust Jeremy were able to complete the project and help 535 people get access to clean water. Both projects were completed in May 2012.

Repair and maintenance
One of the biggest challenges in implementing the projects was to get buy-in from the community as they have been used to aid agencies doing the job for them.

– My job has been to foster a culture where locals understand the importance of saving and funding water projects themselves and I think we do a good job of cost-effectively prolonging and renovating hand-pumps for water security, says Jeremy.

He sees repairing and maintaining existing hand-pumps as a key to this. Unfortunately that has not been much focused on in the past.

– My team and I make up the only effort in this region working on manual hand-pump repair and installation. Our main activities including replacing defunct, non-serviceable pumps with new hand-pumps, says Jeremy.

Related articles:
Clean Water Projects
Whole World Water Campaign
Whole World Water Website
Whole World Water Campaign Designed to Address Global Water Crisis
Own Drinking Water
High-Impact & Low-Cost Clean Water Projects

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