This group of little girls ran up to the pump with a cup in hand. While two of them struggled to pump the handle, the smallest girl would run to the spout with her green cup held in front of her and try to get water. No water comes. The bigger girls give up, but this one determined girl keeps on trying. She pumps the handle a few times, then scampers to the spout to see if she can get some water in her cup. After a few more tries she gives up and wanders home.
Two common types of wells in Liberia are boreholes and hand dug. Boreholes are drilled and tend to be deeper while hand dug wells are wider (they need to be able to fit a person down there to do the digging) and less deep. I believe each has its advantages, but the point of this story isn’t to debate the merits of each. One thing I have noticed is when a borehole has issues they sure are a lot harder to fix. It‘s rather challenging to squeeze into the tiny tube that leads to the bottom. We only restore hand dug wells because we can actually fix a variety of issues associated with them.
This picture sums up a scene I see all too often. A pristine borehole well sitting untouched in close proximity to a hand dug well in heavy use. Communities with a well, sometimes even multiple wells like you see in the picture, end up drinking from creeks because the wells don’t work and they don’t know how to fix them.
As you can see (zoom in!) the hand dug well is in rough shape, but we have already sorted that out. I’m watch the community management team training on the hand-dug well and I’m confident that those three small girls will run to the hand dug well tomorrow and fill their cups with clean water.