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What Happens When A Village in Africa Gets a Water Well?

What Happens When A Village in Africa Gets a Water Well?

Ever wondered what happens when a village in Africa gets a new water well? You may have read about the impact clean water makes in Africa, but what does that actually look like? We created a video to show just that. This short video captures the actual moment of hitting clean water in a village in Uganda. The expressions on everyone’s faces speak volumes – you see joy, relief and hope written on every face.

Drop in the Bucket has drilled over 700 wells since 2006, yet each new completion remains a moment of profound joy and transformation. From the relieved expressions on our drillers’ faces to the beaming smiles of adults in the community, and the infectious laughter of children freed from hours of daily water walks, the impact is monumental. Clean water fundamentally revolutionizes rural life, providing not just hydration but also health, sanitation, and the foundation for economic development.

Your donations make these life-changing projects possible. By supporting Drop in the Bucket, you empower communities to thrive with sustainable access to safe water. Watch this video to witness the transformative power of clean water firsthand.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their invaluable support.

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Our first inter-school quiz competition

Drop in the Bucket just hosted its first ever Inter-School Quiz Competition in South Sudan. The event included 8th grade participants from five primary schools in Nimule South Sudan. The schools submitted four of their top students to compete – two boys and two girls from each.

For the three weeks leading up to the competition, the DROP team had been immersed in preparations, which also included creating the game, using questions from the South Sudan primary school syllabus.

Students participating in the first annual Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition
Students participating in the first annual Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition

Rotating between individual and group questions, the students had 30 seconds to answer questions. These were in math, English, science and social studies. The judges awarded two points for each correct answer. A moderator from the local radio station led the game. And the competition was fierce!

The event included a raffle, giving students from the audience a chance to answer a question and win a t-shirt.

A student holds up her raffle ticket in the Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition
A student holds up her raffle ticket

Although, the DROP education program’s mission is to provide vulnerable girls with the opportunity to attend secondary school, the overall aim is to promote education within the entire society. The goal of this exciting quiz-game format was to merge the concept of competition, fun, and learning into one action-packed afternoon.

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In the end, the students from Green Valley Primary School took home the cup, along with other prizes. They will return next year to defend their award against the other schools. And if they win two more times, the trophy is forever theirs!

The winning students from Green Valley Primary School winning the cup in the first annual Drop in the Bucket inter-school quiz competition.
The winning students from Green Valley Primary School hold up their trophy.
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Naibiri Health Center II and how one nurse’s persistence paid off!

Meet Kamoyi Wilson a nurse at the Naibiri Health Center II in Uganda

Kamoyi Wilson Nurse at the Naibiri Health Center II
Kamoyi Wilson stands in front of the Naibiri Health Center II in Uganda

Even as a child Kamoyi Wilson knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to help people!

His dream was to one day become a doctor, so in school he focused on science classes. “Helping the sick has always been my passion” he explains.

Unfortunately for Wilson, the fees to go to a medical school were too much for his family to afford, so instead he decided to become a nurse.

Starting work at the Naibiri Health Center II

After his graduation he started working at the Naibiri Health Center II and immediately fell in love with the work. The hours were long and exhausting, but every day he got to help people and would go to sleep each night tired but happy.

After a few months he started thinking ways he could make things better for the patients. There were two issues that continued to kept him up at night. The first was that the medical center did not always have enough medicine and when it did, it wasn’t always the best. He began to lobby for better access to medications and eventually his efforts paid off. Now the health clinic has all of the medicine it needs! With that issue solved, he turned his thoughts to the second issue – access to clean water.

The Water Situation at Naibiri

While the facility was not entirely without water, the situation was far from ideal. They had a system that collected rainwater from their roof into a large tank. However this rainwater system had no filter and the rusty roof and dusty pipes affected both the taste and the purity.

During the rainy season and for the next few months the facility had water, but during the dry season, the situation was more desperate. With the tank dry, the only option was to walk for water. The nearest well was a long walk from the center, and coupled with the sheer volume of patients being treated each day, it began taking a toll on the staff.

The health center’s cleaner volunteered to take on the task of fetching water, but she soon realized that she was spending more time walking to and from the well than doing her job. As a result, the facility was not as clean or hygienic as it needed to be.  She would also end each day exhausted. Other staff members and even patients and visitors tried to help by taking turns walking to the well, but there was never enough water.

The local authorities were sympathetic, but unable to help. Their priority had to be supplying the medicine and while they saw the importance of clean water, they just didn’t have the funds.

How it Looks Today

Drop in the Bucket were  in town meeting with the local district water office and were told about the water situation at the health center. We were looking for a health center in the area and after the meeting went straight to Naibiri. As soon as we saw the situation, we knew we were in the right place. This was somewhere that could really use our help.

We commissioned a hydro-geological survey and found a location that was likely to support a well. The drilling itself was fairly straightforward and within a day we drilled down 50 meters to hit water. The test results were great! This water was clean and free of impurities or contaminants.

The Naibiri health center now has clean water and everything has changed! Wilson couldn’t be happier and the staff are beyond grateful for his persistent lobbying.

Naibiri Health Center IINaibiri Health Center II

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Laminogwiri Community School – Where the Drop in the Bucket Drilling Team Made New Friends for Life

Laminogwiri – Where Drop in the Bucket drillers made a new friend for life

When your work involves traveling to remote villages and providing them with clean water, it is easy to make new friends. But sometimes the people you meet become lifelong friends. That was the case with Opiyo Richard from Laminogwiri village in Uganda.

The process of drilling a borehole well starts with a visual inspection. Our advance team scouts the location looking for potential sites to drill.

It was on our first visit to Laminogwiri that we met Opiyo Richard. The drillers were greeted by his warm, inviting smile, little did they know it would be the start of a long friendship.

Opiyo works in the village as a motorcycle mechanic. He heard one of our field trucks approaching and looked up from his work. “When I saw that it was the team that would drill for us the borehole (Drop in the Bucket), I immediately came and joined them, showing them around and levelling the grass,” recalls Opiyo.

A potential site for the well was soon found and Opiyo could barely contain his delight. “I was so excited to see the drilling rig arrive. I came to help them settle in and ended up staying until the borehole was completed,” says Opiyo. “I was here for the handing over ceremony and I will always be near this borehole” adds Opiyo proudly.

Opiyo was there helping the drillers every day, happy to give his time and energy. He had paying work coming in, but felt that he needed to be there helping. The drillers loved his enthusiasm and were happy to have him around helping. Asked why he put aside his other commitments, Opiyo replied, “You don’t know how badly we needed clean water in this village”

Opio shows us the old water source.

Opio took us to see the old water source. We started walking and eventually we reached a muddy open water hole. “We used to drink from this dirty pond. We shared it with pigs and cows. As for the distance? Well, now you know how far we just walked”.

The old water source at Laminogwiri in UgandaThe pond water was muddy and stagnant. Definitely not water most people would even consider drinking, but for people of Laminogwiri, it was the only option.

The community members would stand in the water and scoop water into their buckets and containers.
Komakech Daniel, a local schoolboy remembers, “Our school uniforms are white, so when we washed them with water from the pond they got dirtier”.

“During rainy season, the water on the ground runs into the pond, making it even muddier. With no other options, we still came here to fetch water. The next pond is just past that hill over there,” says Oyella Nancy pointing towards the horizon.

With her baby tied on her back, Oyella Nancy and other community members gather to thank Drop in the Bucket at the commissioning of their borehole.

“We used his dirty water to bathe our babies and wash their clothes. We knew it was unhealthy, but what could we do?” adds Oyella with her baby on her back. Her face informs us that even as she was doing it, she was painfully aware of the risks of drinking dirty water shared with pigs and cows.

The New Well at Laminogwiri

The new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket at the Laminogweri school in Uganda
A male students gets clean water from the new well at Laminogweri School.

Aol Mary looks at the new borehole and smiles “You just heard that school boy talking about washing his clothes with dirty water and you heard my neighbors talking about their children getting sick from drinking dirty water, well all of those problems have now been solved”.

Opiyo is sad to see his new friends leave, but he assures us that we are always welcome in the village and will always know where to find him. “I will be right here by the borehole, taking good care of it and making sure there are never any problems. But don’t let that stop you from coming to visit us” he adds with a laugh.

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Layik West – a man wanted to get his village water so he ran for office

Layik West – the place where people fight.

Layik West in Uganda has many needs! The village lacks basic amenities like a school, a health center, drivable roads or any kind of police presence. But above all, the community’s biggest issue was their lack of clean water. At the time the village was using a protected spring for water. This is where someone builds a small cement structure around a naturally occurring stream or hand dug waterhole. They insert a metal pipe through the cement and use it to collect water. The cement provides some protection but the water is still groundwater and not safe to drink.

Over time the pipes rusted and the water came out slowly. This made collecting water a slow and frustrating experience. The spring became known locally as ‘Wang ali’ which translates as “The place where people quarrel, or fight”.

Hon Ocaya Denis a local leader from Layik West village in Uganda
Hon Ocaya Denis from Layik West village talks to Drop in the Bucket

One man concerned about the water situation was Hon. Ocaya Denis. He decided to run for local office so that he could help the people of Layik West. “We can wait on the roads, but we cannot wait for clean water!” He says emphatically.

“You never get used to seeing a woman collecting water with pigs standing next to her”

 “The spring was also being used by animals. You never get used to seeing a woman collecting water for drinking and cooking while pigs are standing in the same water.” Mr Ocaya said shaking his head. Ocaya decided to become a village leader. He reached out to the local District Water Office who put him in touch with Drop in the Bucket.

Atoo Jamila using a well drilled by Drop in the Bucket in Layik West Uganda
Atoo Jamila uses a well drilled by Drop in the Bucket

“We were also watching people crowding the water pipe and quarreling with each other, as they collected water.” agrees Atoo Jamila, a mother of five.

The root cause of the conflict

Another local leader, Kilama Geofrey agrees. “The majority of issues reported to me were trivial quarrels that happened while collecting water”. This led to tension between community members. “We are happy that Drop in the Bucket has finally solved this problem for us”.

Avoid dirty water sources and only drink water from the new well

Along with drilling the new well, DROP’s staff also helped the community form a water committee they trained in hygiene and sanitation. One woman who received training was Lamaro Miriam who volunteered to be a health leader. Now members of the community come to her when they are feeling unwell. “Mothers bring their children to me with signs of typhoid and bilharzia. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to treat those ailments, but I am able to tell them how to avoid getting sick again” she smiles. The most common advice she gives to tell them to avoid dirty water sources and only drink water from the new well.

Lamaro Miriam from the Layik West water committee set up by Drop in the Bucket
Lamaro Miriam from the Layik West water committee

“We are very grateful. Many organizations work here in Uganda, but only Drop in the Bucket came and drilled us a borehole” appreciates Lamaro.

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Five Months of Drilling in Iganga District

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Five Months of Drilling in Iganga District

The DROP drilling team just returned from five months of drilling in Iganga district in southeastern Uganda. As usual, we encountered more than our fair share of challenges. Complicated underground rock formations made drilling extremely frustrating. Deluges of rain had the team ducking for shelter when they desperately wanted to see water flushing up from the ground, not down from the sky. And a one-month delay at the Mombasa port had them drilling with a dull hammer that bounced off the rocks, rather than cutting straight through them.

But the biggest hurdle for everybody was the time away from their families. Our drilling supervisor had a big wedding in the works, our cook received daily calls from her children, and by month five, the whole team was extremely homesick.

The main office struggled to bring them comfort through special meals, extra bonuses, and gadgets to ease the work. Despite everything, they pushed through to deliver twenty-five successful wells in the Iganga District, some for schools with over 1500 children.

According to the team, those victories within the communities made it all worthwhile. Because in the five months they spent in Iganga, they made it their second home, learned the local language, and tasted the traditional foods of that region. They also made friends. When you bring water to people in need, you make lifelong friends. The joy of serving communities – whether near or far – can help overcome the biggest challenges.

Help us help more people with clean water! Your donations make our work possible! Learn more about our mission and impact.

 

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Akecha B Village – Where Clean Water Helped a Woman Regain her Dignity

Akecha B – Where Clean Water Helped a Woman Regain Her Dignity

Balvina Akullu from the Akecha B village in Uganda

Akecha B village was not an easy place to reach. The only road was more of a footpath than an actual road, so the village was fairly isolated. It was in this village that we met a grandmother named Balvina Akullu. Balvina is a proud woman who loves her children and her 10 grandchildren. Her face lights up with a radiant smile when she talks about them. But Balvina’s life has been far from easy. She has lived in this village her whole life and was here the day the village was attacked by the LRA terror group. Balvina’s husband was killed and her arm was badly injured, she also sustained a head injury. She was in the hospital for two months but was unable to regain full use of her hand, making it difficult to lift heavy objects.

A full container of water weighs approximately 40 lbs, so fetching drinking water became a major problem for this kindly grandmother. “Every day I had to ask for help and soon I had asked everyone in the village. They always brought me water, but the only safe water source was far away, so sometimes my neighbors would bring me clean water but often they would just bring any water they could find.” Balvina often found herself being forced to drink and cook with dirty water that would make her sick. “It was awful, I felt like I was a burden to everyone from the village. I knew I was asking a lot but I needed the water to survive.”

Drilling a Well for Akecha B Village

When Drop in the Bucket came to Akecha B village to look into drilling a well, the buzz around the village was electric but nobody was more overjoyed than Balvina. “The clean water restored my dignity. My neighbors are happy to visit me now and when they come, they always bring me water. The well is close to my home, so now I never have to ask, they just bring it. Now I have all the water I need and it is always clean water.” Balvina wanted to be part of the water committee that manages the well, but unfortunately, she still suffers from memory loss from the attack.

“They remember what life is like without a well and they do not want to go back.”

Nyeko Soloman security guard for the Akecho village borehole

Nyeko Soloman is responsible for the security of the new well. He shakes his head when he thinks back to the old water source that the village used. “It was a long walk to get to the nearest well, so we dug a hole where we knew there was a natural spring. This water was used by the community, but also by livestock, so it was very contaminated. This new well has changed our whole village”. Nyeko takes his job seriously, he is proud of the fact that the well is always swept clean and that people line up their containers neatly and always keep them clean. He smiles when he points out how gentle everyone is when using the hand pump. “They remember what life is like without a well and they do not want to go back.”

Akecha B borehole well in Uganda
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Skyrocketing Food and Fuel Prices Impact the Most Vulnerable.

Skyrocketing Food and Fuel Prices Impact the Most Vulnerable

Western news outlets are reporting daily on the direct impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are global economic ramifications that are wreaking havoc on the vulnerable communities in Africa and are impacting our ability to do our work.

News outlets throughout sub-Saharan Africa are reporting from streets filled with protesters who are fed up with the rising costs of food and fuel, which have reached an all-time high.

And the impact is felt all the way down to the village level, where basic necessities are becoming unaffordable. Because in Africa, fuel prices directly impact the cost of everything else. And sky-high transport costs directly lead to food inflation. And at DROP we are feeling this as a direct hit. We have donors who funded wells six months ago at a cost of $6000. But now, due to this inflation, it is costing us $7500 to drill those wells.

According to World Economic Forum’s May 2022 report,

“Sub-Saharan African countries find themselves facing another severe and exogenous shock. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a surge in food and fuel prices that threatens the region’s economic outlook”

Village Life in Uganda

The situation is particularly troubling for Ugandans who were dealt a traumatic economic hit when the country shut down for 10 months in 2020 due to Covid. And schools remained closed 80 weeks in total.

So now, just as the population is preparing bounce back, the country is being confronted with the exorbitant costs of everything. In recent months, the country has seen the price of commodities such as soap jump to more than double the regular price.

DROP is also feeling the impact in our work. Our Uganda drilling team is currently in Iganga district drilling 20 wells, mostly for schools and the amount we are spending on fuel is higher than it has ever been?

The daily challenges we normally encounter in our work, are compounded exponentially, as market prices fluctuate daily. Some key materials have increased as much as 50%. And cargo shipments can delay up to six-months due to supply-chain issues.

How this is affecting our work

To make up for this drastic increase in costs, our field teams are foregoing a community empowerment activity that we love to provide in the villages where we work. Whenever possible, we train local community members (half women) to become hand pump mechanics. They can then use these skills to repair their own wells and operate as a business repairing wells in other villages.

As summer 2022 draws to an end, we are appealing to our drop family to consider making a contribution, however small, to help us bridge the funding gaps we are encountering due to this economic crisis.

$1000 – will fund a Pump Mechanics training for eight people.

$500 – will cover the increase if fuel costs for the drilling of one well

$200 – will help feed the drillers for one month

$100 – will help bridge the increase in costs for installation materials for one well.

Please consider making a donation

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Ngom Rom: And the Dream of Clean water for All!

Ngom Rom – “Places are the same”

Ngom Rom is a small village located about 25 kms outside Gulu city. The name Ngom Rom, when translated into English, means “Places are the same”. But one thing that separated Ngom Rom from other places was that it had no clean water.

When Drop in the Bucket was first approached about drilling a well for Ngom Rom, we knew this would not be an easy project. We would be drilling in an area best described as “water stressed”. Other organizations had already tried to drill in the area and were unsuccessful. Otim Geofrey, the Mayor of Pece- Laroo, took us to meet the local community.  One of the first questions we asked them was “How would the community feel if the only place we could find water was in the middle of someone’s farm, business location or house? With no hesitation, the entire community replied that they would be willing to give up some of their land if it meant everybody would get clean water.

A village with a giving spirit

We surveyed several locations to find the spot most likely to yield sufficient water for the entire village. The most promising location ended up being in a woman named Angom Hellen’s garden. The elderly woman laughed and said she would be happy to donate land for the well. “We meant what we said when we pledged that the borehole should be drilled in the best location. And if the best place had been inside my home, I would have gladly sacrificed that too”.

Auma Alice, an elected local community leader, was proud to point out that this same giving spirit was consistent while the well was drilled. The local community came out in force to help assist the drillers. They also dug a soak pit and built a fence around the well to keep it safe. Even workers from the local quarry came by to help.

“We used to depend on water from the Unyama river water.” recalls Atoo Betty, a mother of three. She shakes her head when she explains how they always found mud and other dirt settled at the bottom of the containers they used for fetching water. “We would let the water sit for a while until the dirt settled on the bottom and then we would pour off the clear water from the top of the container.  We knew the water wasn’t clean, but it was cleaner than the rest, so we used it.”

The New Well

Nyeko James Laten, the Chairman of the newly formed water committee, explained how before the borehole was drilled, all of the surrounding villages got their water from the Unyama river. “People from other villages are now coming to get clean water from the borehole,” states Nyeko.

While the water committee at Ngom Rom are happy to share their water, Nyeko asked us earnestly if it would be possible for Drop in the Bucket to help these other communities by drilling them wells too. Nyeko’s face lights up with a smile as he says “The name of our village means a place like other places. Wouldn’t it be nice if every village was like ours and had clean water?”

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Celebrate World Water Day with a village in Uganda

Today is World Water Day and we are in Apur Ki Opko, a village named after its lack of water.

The village of Apur Ki Opoko is filled with the sounds of people playing instruments, singing and dancing, because today they have a real reason to celebrate! The Drop in the Bucket team are present for a ceremony with local village and district officials to officially hand over a newly-drilled well for fresh water. Amidst the excitement, a voice cuts through the sounds of laughter.

Village children stand by the new well at Apur Ki Opoko

“I was born here, I grew up here and I will die here,” boasts Ocen Marcelino proudly. He’s the village chairperson, and he points at a pumpkin-like gourd laying on the ground nearby. “This is the calabash gourd, and our village takes its name from these gourds.” He goes on to explain that in the past women from the village used these gourds to fetch water. They would walk to a distant swamp and use the calabash to dig down into the ground. Once they had dug deep enough, they would use the gourd to collect the water and carry it back to the village. He then explains that name Apur Ki Opoko literally means “I dig with Calabash.”Ocen looks at the smiling crowd and jokes “Maybe now that we have this well, we can change the name of the village”

Janet Ajok, a woman from the village, greets our drillers with a warm smile. “Thank you for the new well!” she beams. “The water we were getting was from a waterhole that was also used by animals. We had to use it for cooking and drinking. We are so happy to finally have this well and clean water!”

An elderly woman named Rose Ayoo leaves a group of people dancing to join us. “I am so happy that this happened during my lifetime. I have dreamed of this moment for so long,” she says, visibly overwhelmed. Around her neck she is wearing a calabash gourd, a reminder of the daily struggle for water she endured for so much of her life, and a symbol of the joy she feels because she will never have to make that walk carrying a calabash again. 

Today is World Water Day, and today we all get to celebrate with Rose, Janet and the people of Apur Ki Opoko. This is a day they will always remember, as the new well will change their lives forever.

From everyone at Drop in the Bucket, we wish you a Happy World Water Day, and thank you for making our work possible for all these years. 

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