Water truly means life for people who live in desert regions of Senegal, like the village of Santhie, one of CREATE!’s newest partner communities. However, it can also be one of the biggest challenges to address. Up until about 40 years ago, rural villages maintained their own wells, but when the government began making water available through a commercial system, these wells were abandoned, and in some cases, became trash pits. Over the years, however, commercial water has become cost prohibitive for use in growing food for local consumption.  Yet, thousands of wells remain, offering untapped potential as sources of clean, affordable water.

Well rehabilitation: volunteers operate the locally-built winch system

The new, locally built winch system uses hand cranks, powered by volunteers from the village, to bring equipment and people up and down from the well in order to rehabilitate it for use again.

Determined to find a local solution to bring affordable and abundant water back to Santhie, the CREATE! team in Senegal, under the guidance of CREATE! Founder Barry Wheeler, worked with a local fabricator to design a human-powered winch system that could lower people and equipment down into the wells to clean them out and rehabilitate them. Well rehabilitation has turned out to be an impressive example of how appropriate technologies, combined with community mobilization, can solve a longstanding problem.

Well rehabilitation: Trash is pulled up from the bottom of the well

Volunteers and CREATE! staff spent about a week hauling up mud and trash from the well in Santhie in order to clean it out

The winch has proven to be both affordable (costing only about $500 to build), and efficient, as it can be loaded in the back of CREATE!’s pickup truck and taken wherever it’s needed. With the help of CREATE! technicians and expert well builders, young men from Santhie organized to clear the well of its 40 years’ worth of trash debris, clean it, rebuild the walls, and fully rehabilitate it.

Well rehabilitation: Volunteers are lowered down into the well to clean out the debris

The new winch system is safer than the old methods for lowering people down into the wells, using extra safety ropes and a seat

The well rehabilitation project has been an outstanding success. When fully operational, and outfitted with a solar powered pump, the well will once again provide the community of Santhie with a renewable source of clean, abundant water.  We send our enthusiastic congratulations to Santhie and the CREATE! team that made it happen!

Well rehabilitation: 40 years' worth of trash from the wells

Volunteers pulled up years and years worth of trash and muck from the well – talk about a dirty job! Major respect for the men who went down into the well to clear it out!

This is an exciting time for CREATE!, as our team works to rehabilitate wells in additional communities. And it is all thanks to the commitment and mobilization of our partner communities, the innovation and organizational skills of the CREATE! field team, and the support of our donors

Well rehabilitation: the final step

As a final step in the well rehabilitation process, this plate (known as a “dalle de fond”) gets lowered to the bottom of the well so water can bubble up through holes in it, while the plate holds back mud and debris that would interfere with the operation of the solar powered pump.