In the areas of Zambia where the WfK projects are located, there is little
surface water. Boreholes are drilled in locations where sonar equipment
indicated the rock is less dense, here water will collect at 45 to 90m
below ground level. Pipes are then installed to bring water to the surface.
Most commonly in Zambia hand pumps are used to draw the water up through
the borehole to fill containers. The cost of drilling a borehole and providing
a hand pump is over £3,000 to £4,000. So few boreholes can be provided and
people often have to walk a long way to get water and may have to queue
when they get there. This may mean they use contaminated surface wells
or streams instead.
So WfK and ZIEH decided at the outset that water should be distributed from the borehole to taps within 250m of each house, the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard. This involves pumping the water to tanks, using solar power, where mains electricity is not available. The tanks are usually sited on stands 5 to 8 metres above the ground. However, Kamaila school has a hill behind it, so the 50 litre tank was rolled up the hill, with much effort, avoiding the need to build a tank stand.
The water is gravity fed to taps throughout the village or taps at the school or clinic. The villagers dig the trenches for the pipe-work, this not only reduces the cost but also gives the village a sense of ownership of the new infrastructure. The pipes need to be laid at the correct fall. At the time of the handover of the water installation in Kamaila village 5 taps were dry, however the pipes were soon realigned and put in working order. The detailing of the concrete bases to the taps and the construction of soakaways was also improved, to avoid ponding which attracts mosquitoes.
At Kamaila school two banks of four taps were provided, one at the front of the building and one at the back, near the latrines. In Fumbelo village, which is a densely populated area on the edge of Lusaka, the water will be accessed at a Water Kiosk: an enclosed area containing a bank of ten taps.
Although we had hoped that people would be able to get water from the taps at any time, the supply has to be switched off for at least two hours a day allowing the tanks to fill. This ensures a good flow of water from each tap and preserves the life of the pump.
The water provided by Water for Kids is safe to drink without the need for boiling or adding chlorine.
The Water Engineering and Development Centre at Loughborough University website contains more information. It is one of the world's leading education and research institutes for improving access to infrastructure and services for the poor in low- and middle-income countries.