Imagine you must walk to a river to get water. No pipes, no taps, just dirty water. This is the reality for hundreds of millions of people, and is the cause of much sickness and death, especially among children. But we can change this. 

Let me explain. In most areas, rain falls and seeps into the ground where it forms aquifers; layers of sediment and water. Drilling or boring a well, often called a borehole or borewell, provides a simple free-standing solution. 

WellBoring wells are in primary schools so that children, who are most vulnerable to water-borne diseases, get ready access and so an institution, the school, has responsibility for the well. 

The impact is immediate. School enrolment goes up, non-attendance falls, and children don’t have to leave school to fetch water. Learning time increases and pupils and teachers aren’t dehydrated. Water is shared with the community too, most of whom have children at the school.

We insist that the community contributes basic materials like sand and dirty water need for the drilling process, and some labour too. And they have to agree to use their small school water budget to pay for ongoing regular servicing and any further maintenance as needed to keep the well working for a lifetime. 

We go further and train local people in basic hygiene practices like keeping containers clean, hand-washing, and blocking the germ pathway. We insist that a Water Management Committee is formed and that a majority of its members are women. 

A 60 metre borewell and a well-trained community costs about €8,000 and provides water for about 1,000 people. That’s just €8.00 per person, and a well-maintained well provides water for multiple generations of children. 

Nigel Linacre BEM is Chair of WellBoring.