The borehole in Ongino village in Kumi District, Eastern Uganda, had not been working and the community members could not work out why…the water just wouldn’t flow! So, the women and children started to trek, once again, to their old contaminated water source.
Ongino village is not alone. Borehole malfunction is sometimes a reality for communities due to irregular maintenance and poor handling which contribute to low functionality. Something as simple as disconnected pipes, perforation from rust, worn out valves or even a broken chain can stop the flow of water. In many communities there is still a lack of understanding of what to fix, how to fix it, or even that it can be fixed!
Sustainability is a key issue in clean and safe water supply and something that is a priority for Fields of Life!
To meet this challenge, Fields of Life is strengthening community-based management systems through training different stakeholders including hand pump mechanics.
Throughout March, Fields of Life trained 15 hand pump mechanics from various parts of Kumi, equipping them with tools to repair problematic wells and also providing them with bicycles so that they could travel easily to each of the communities.
How important is this training?
In Kanyum Sub-County an unqualified person dismantled the hand pump for diagnosis and left it open.
Training for the whole community will help to prevent incidences like this from happening as it educates the hand pump mechanics on the appropriate processes of diagnosis, maintenance and repair at a minimal cost to the community. The training in Kumi was very successful and it was encouraging to see four wells repaired by those who had received training.
For the borehole in Ongino, the valves were worn out and it took only two hours for the newly trained team to dismantle, diagnose, repair and reassemble the well! At exactly 4pm on 16th March 2017, Ongino had water again!
These hand pump mechanics will continue to carry out monthly inspections of the boreholes, providing maintenance and repair where needed and providing the Fields of Life Kampala office with monthly reports. In this way, the communities can be assured of clean and safe water always!