Community engagement begins as a result of the outgrowth of the church and its rapport of being a church that helps communities realize clean water. Most of the time we already have a Christian presence in the village, but at other times we engage as a result of other projects in the same area or as a means to establish an evangelistic post. Statistically, in Burkina Faso, 45% of the population does not have access to clean water, and when water well pumps break down (1 out 7 pumps are broken down), people resort to finding water in low lying areas which are contaminated with animal feces and diseases leading to dysentery and typhoid fever (which can lead to death). Following is a step by step process of our water team goes about rehabilitating broken down water wells in a particular community and the multiple visits required:
1st – Initial Research Visit: ascertain community water demand and their capacity to participate in project by meeting informally with local leaders, diagnose condition of the pump, and compare data with national documents on wells in Burkina Faso and with local mayor offices who oversee community wells.
2nd – Community Meeting: assembling community leaders and church leaders along with water user committee members to discuss the history of the village, their assets, the involvement of other NGO’s, an explanation of who we are and why we are here, the well project under consideration, the level of community participation (which includes community funds, labor and resources) and maintenance of water point (community establishes water well user committee and takes up financial contributions and opens a community bank account for future repairs), and prayer precedes and concludes all meetings. This is a work done in the name of Jesus for God’s glory and purpose.
3rd – Water Testing: all old rusted and broken materials are pulled from the well (cylinder, pipes, and pump head), water is pumped clean by use of an electric submersible pump powered by a generator, initial water tests (TDS, Iron) and post-installation water tests of bacteria *well testing may occur before community meeting if a problem is suspected, sometimes it may occur on the day of installation if the village is remote.
4th – Installation of New Hand Pump: after all construction repairs/work has been completed by the community to the platform and surrounding area, then and only then, do we return to install the new materials in the well – our mission only installs galvanized cylinders and pipes in the well which are not susceptible to rust, these are the highest quality materials available; the local church is present and singing in the background as the well is being rehabilitated; chlorination of water and water testing occurs; reports are filled out; after the installation, one of the rehab team members gives a story from the Bible, prayers are given in thanks and often for those who are ill, finally the community responds with messages of thanks and gifts.
5th – Health and Hygiene Lessons: community leaders, water well committee members, and water users are assembled to teach basic lessons on health and hygiene, pump maintenance and care, and how to collect and store water so that it remains pure at the point of consummation.
6th – Evangelism and Church Witness: Throughout this process prayers have been offered up on every occasion, dependence and glory has been given to God, and people come to praise God for the good works they are witnessing. After this, a ministry team evangelist returns to show the Jesus Film near the well site in the community or community center where the most people can watch it, explanations are given, questioned answered, and there is much prayer and singing.
7th – Follow-Up Visit: within three to six months a return visit is made to ensure that the pump is being properly maintained and the well pad is clean and the drain is working properly. Our water team will continue to provide quarterly surveillance on these pumps throughout the life of the pump (which if properly maintained can last 15-20 years).
NOTE: As you can see, rehabilitating older broken down wells is more economical than drilling new wells. And, when you give the gift of a new rehab or a new well, it’s a gift that lasts for years to come…every single day…for as many as 400 people’s daily water needs. It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving! IF you would like to give the gift of water, then please contact us for how your family, friends, workplace, church, or school can make a difference in providing clean water in Jesus’ name!