| Wells construction: hand dug and hand drilled |
|Section one: Planning|
|Chapter 1: Introduction to wells planning|
A new properly built well can provide people with more and better water. But the new well itself may have little or no impact on the surrounding community's health if the well users do not know how to make effective use of the water.
It is important to learn the water needs of a local population in order to construct an appropriate water source. In all locales an adequate supply of clean water is essential for maintaining and improving health. Many of the most common and serious diseases in developing countries are closely related to the amount and quality of water people use. Without an adequate supply of clean water, little can be done to control diseases that spread through contaminated water supplies.
In order to ascertain local needs, you must consider two limiting aspects to the provision of water: 1) the quality of the water and 2) the quantity of water available locally.
Good quality water does not contain chemicals and bacteria which are hazards to health and life. The quality of water can be assured by:
• locating the site to avoid possible water contamination;
• proper construction of the well or any other water source, to protect the water supply from contamination;
• initial and periodic water treatment, usually with chlorine, to kill dangerous bacteria (see Appendix VIII, Water Treatment);
• education of the local users so that they can maintain the purity, or at least prevent the gross contamination of their water.
The quantity of water is often more difficult to ensure. Especially in a rural setting, access (distance) to water will often limit the amount that can be used by each individual, because of the time needed to convey it. Quantity, however, has a direct bearing on health.
Five liters per person per day is considered the minimum consumption level, although desert dwellers exist on less. More than 50 liters per person per day, it has been estimated, gains no further health benefits. Twentyfive liters per person per day may become an acceptable goal in places where piped connections to individual houses are not feasible. Wherever possible, water use beyond minimum-level consumption should be encouraged. Consumption will rise under the following circumstances:
• new well construction to provide a water source closer to a group of people, who will then presumably be able to gather more water in the same amount of time that they previously were able to do;
• education of local users toward a greater use of water, especially for hygienic purposes (bathing, washing clothes and cooking utensils).
The quantity of water needed may also be significantly affected by the number of livestock that require water and by whether the water is to be used for garden irrigation.