DISCUSSION LEADERS GUIDE
At the end of this learning/discussion session, the participants should be able to:
1. Discuss basic technology used in building wells in their community.
2. Make a simple illustration of an improved well in their community, showing: the aquifer, the well shaft, the well casing, the apron and drainage ditch and the method of raising water.
3. List potential sources of problems with the well.
4. List methods of correcting problems.
5. List methods of preventing problems.
one to two hours
chalkboard and chalk, or flipchart and pen
1. PLEASE NOTE: USE THIS SESSION ONLY IF THERE ARE WELLS IN THE COMMUNITY. IF THE WATER SYSTEM IS BASED ON SPRINGS OR SURFACE WATER SOURCES, DO NOT USE THIS SESSION.
SEE SESSION 7 FOR MATERIAL ABOUT SPRINGS.
2. The information about digging wells and raising water may be common knowledge to those of the participants who were (or are) involved as workers or eager observers during the construction of the well.
If so, encourage them to share their knowledge. Let them do the teaching/explaining.
The purpose of this section is to familiarise participants with the facts about wells in their community. It is NOT necessary to discuss in detail other types of wells.
3. The information presented in the section entitled How Wells May Be Polluted will not be applicable for all situations. If, for example, all wells in the community are covered wells, it is not necessary to discuss in detail the ways that uncovered wells may become polluted.
4. The information presented in the section entitled Community Responsibilities may or may not be suitable for this community. Let the participants decide if the suggestions are appropriate for their area. This section will be most valuable if it provides an opportunity for the participants to think carefully about their own responsibilities.
5. DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITY: Question number one will be of great interest to some groups. Other groups will show little interest in the technicalities of the well. Do not let the group become bored by a detailed discussion if they are not interested.
QUESTIONS TWO TO FIVE MUST BE DISCUSSED. Try to get a commitment to solving any problems concerning the community water supply.
Emphasise the idea that these participants are leaders and they should use their influence to prevent or correct problems of the water system.
6. SUGGESTED ANSWERS:
Question 1: Details are not important when listing the steps or drawing the well. The purpose of this discussion is to give the participants an appreciation of the complexity of the well and therefore to motivate them to care for it properly.
Questions 2 and 3: Answers will vary.
Question 4: This question offers an opportunity to clarify the role of the community members in relation to the water supply system. Encourage participants to make a commitment to prevent problems.
Questions 5 and 6: The discussion of these questions could lead to an understanding of community responsibility for the continued maintenance and operation of the water system. Encourage commitment to whatever actions are necessary.
7. READING ASSIGNMENT: If this group does study assignments before each learning/discussion session, ask them to read the material in Session 8 before the next group meeting. They should NOT read and study Session 7 unless there are spring-fed water systems in their community.
Read about wells. Your discussion leader will answer any questions you have.
Use the DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITY to talk with other group members about wells in your community.
DIGGING OR DRILLING A WELL
The water you get from a well has been stored in the aquifer. In order to get the water, a well had to be dug deep enough to reach the aquifer. The wells supplying ground water to your community were most likely dug (or drilled) in one of the following ways.
Digging or Drilling a Well
RAISING THE WATER
After the well is constructed, the water must be raised from the aquifer to the surface so that you can use it. There are several ways that this can be done. Look at the illustrations. Which methods are used for the wells in your community?
Methods of Raising Well Water
Notice that the wells using pumps (hand, diesel or electric) are covered wells. Water comes out but you cannot put anything into the wells. Wells using buckets or other containers are uncovered wells. Both covered and uncovered wells must be taken care of it you want clean and good tasting water.
Even when the water in the aquifer is pure, the water that you take out of the well could become contaminated by careless users. Think about the following examples of how wells can become polluted. Do any of these happen in your community?
HOW WELLS MAY BE POLLUTED
1. Rubbish thrown down an uncovered well. Children or adults who do not understand the importance of clean water may do this.
2. Spilt water. If there is no wall around the well opening (or an uncovered well) or if people stand on the well wall to draw water from the well, water which has splashed against their feet may fall back into the well and spread disease (e.g. guinea worm).
3. The container used for drawing water. The bucket and rope used for raising water may be contaminated with germs and mud. When they are dropped into the water they may contaminate the aquifer and also the water brought up in the bucket.
4. Surface water. If there is no wall around the opening of the well, polluted water can be washed straight down into an uncovered well. (This situation is very dangerous! People and animals could also fall down the well.)
5. Polluted ground water. The water in the aquifer may be polluted if pit latrines or other sources of pollution are located too close to the well. Disease-causing micro-organisms can seep through the soil and reach the aquifer. REMEMBER: pit latrines should be at a lower elevation and at least 25 metres from the well.
TWO POSSIBLE PROBLEMS
In some communities, there are two other serious problems connected with wells.
One, the pump breaks because of improper use or because of lack of maintenance.
Two, the well site is not kept clean and well-drained and it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos and other insects.
Solutions to both of these problems (as well as the pollution problem) are the responsibility of the whole community. Maintenance of the pump will be the job of the caretaker chosen by the village. Responsibility for maintenance of the site belongs to both the caretaker and all the people who use the wells.
In many communities, the water and sanitation committee (or other group which is responsible for the water supply system) takes action to ensure that the community water supply remains clean. Examples of these actions are listed below.
1. Set up a schedule for regular maintenance.
2. Hire, train and pay a caretaker to look after the well site and pump (if used).
3. Keep a supply of essential spare parts in the community.
4. Enforce disciplinary measures for misuse of the well.
5. Educate community members about the use of the well, including such information as:
· how to guard against flooding around the well site;
· how to guard against water contamination by surface water or rubbish;
· how to use the bucket or pump correctly;
· how to supply clean water if the well runs dry.
6. Protect the well site from animals by building and maintaining a fence or bush hedging around it, and by constructing a water trough for animals at a safe distance from the well.
What does your community do to prevent pollution of the well? What does it do to prevent breakdowns of the pump?
1. Do you remember what drilling method(s) was (were) used to build the well(s) in your community? Tell about the digging and building of the well.
2. Do the children and adults in your community understand how to use the well and keep the water clean?
Do the children play on the pump? Do they play around the well site? Does this cause any problems?
3. Have you had any problems with the well(s) in your community?
Is the water pure? Does it taste good? Is there enough?
Do people use the well properly? If not, what should they do?
4. Can you identify a problem with your community well?
What could be done to correct it?
What could be done to prevent future problems?
Who should correct or prevent problems?
Who has the authority to make decisions about water use or well misuse?
5. Did the people in your community make contributions of money, materials and/or labour for the construction of your water supply system?
6. If there are handpumps in your community, think about the following questions:
a) Who should be the caretaker(s) of the handpumps?
b) How many caretakers should there be for each handpump?
c) Who should choose the caretaker?
d) Could a woman be a caretaker?
e) What should caretakers do? (e.g. look after and repair every part of the handpump; or look after and repair only those parts above the ground; or look after the well site only, etc.)
f) Should the caretaker submit a monthly report to the water and sanitation committee or the village authority?
g) Where should the spare parts be kept? Who should keep them? Who should buy them? Where can they be purchased?
h) What should the caretaker do if the repairs are beyond his/her ability?
i) Who should contribute to the expenses of repairing the handpump?