Meeting with panchayat members
Thank you again for so generously enabling Blue Planet Network to fund our NGO member Project Well.
So many of you stepped up to the plate that we were able to fund not only 5 modern bore-dugwells -as originally planned - but 8 wells.
Of particular note, the funds raised through Global Giving were $7835.00. However, additional funds were raised offline in a community event dubbed "Hope for Water" in Fairfax, CA, bringing our total to $10,000, meaning many more people will directly benefit from this increase in funding.
The project is now fully funded and construction will being by July 2012. The wells will take approximately one year to build, start to finish, allowing for logistical problems the site, weather, or community, might present.
There has been a location change of these wells from Nadia to the community development block Gaighata, of the North 24 Parganas district. This site change was made for two reasons: 1) On a field visit to Gaighata on May 17th, 2012, Project Well assessed the maintenance of a few existing wells. Due to extremely high usage, with some residents needing to arrive at 4am in the morning, dredging has become necessary. On the visit, there was a request by the panchayat member Jayanta Biswas and the female panchayat head (pictured above) to reduce the pressure of the usage on the existing wells by building new bore-dugwells in the Jaleshwar II panchayat. [Panchayat def: local self-governments at the small-town level]. And secondly, 10 wells on the Chakdahblock of Nadia have also recently been funded by another Project Well partner, Arghyam, relieving the need to build more wells in Nadia. The groundwork of site selection is happening now throughout the month of June (while masonry work of the other wells built by Project Well will be going on simultaneously!) and the actual boring and digging will begin in July.
The fact that Project Well is focused specifically on water projects in West Bengal, India, means the organization can respond to the unique social and political climate and flex to local season challenges, such as monsoons. It's front and center in Blue Planet Network's mission to fund local, specialized NGOs such as Project Well. The resultant efficiencies, such as indicated here, are invaluable.
The design of Project Well's modern bore-dugwells are far superior to the older designs of borewells, locally known as tub wells. A "dug well" or hole is dug and fitted with a concrete pipe, larger in diameter the PVC piping that carries the water to the pumps, and effectively keeps the drinking water separate from the water bearing sediment layers that might otherwise leech arsenic water into the drinking water over time. The wells will be sheltered and fed by rainwater, not groundwater, and treated with chlorine based disinfectant. Users will extract water via a traditional hand-pump. Project Well has fitted electric pumps in other wells in the West Bengal area, and it's our hope that these Gaighata wells might be outfitted similarly in the future. These are the types of modifications and advancements that are made possible when we exceed funding goals for a project. Most residents will fetch water from these wells twice a day for drinking and cooking. Consumer demographic data will be gathered on the wells' impact approximately 6 months later.
As for continuing education, Project Well has been holding village meetings in schools and using projectors to show films on arsenic and its health effects. By showing pictures -at times disturbing photos of illnesses- on large screens or placards, the importance of using these modern bore-dugwells and engaging in proper hygiene practice is truly brought to light. Women disproportionally outweigh men as societal caretakers and water collectors, hence Project Well is focusing efforts on bringing these lessons to women specifically. This type of community education is crucial, and many cases, makes or breaks the success and sustainability of water projects.
Education of the users groups will continue even after the wells are built. The need to instill the use of these arsenic-free wells is very important as residents can easily fall into established routines and habits of using the old wells that tap arsenic laden groundwater. It's tub wells, shallow or deep, that are responsible for poisoning the residents without them even realizing as the arsenic in water is odorless and colorless, in effect, undetectable. This problem is expounded by the fact that health effects of arsenic take years to manifest physically, meaning people have no gauge or immediate tangible proof that what they are doing to themselves is harmful. Project Well faces the challenge of convincing the residents "Out with the old and in with the new!" - and it can be an uphill battle at times.
Pertaining to maintenance and training, both men and women will be trained in the maintenance of the wells, including in the application of the chlorine-based disinfectant Theoline, and in minor wear and tear repair. Subsequent visits by Project Well to Gaighata will be approximately once a month for a year, until the operation and maintenance of the dug wells become sustainable. After that, field workers will conduct inspections once or twice a year.
Please see the photos provided by Project Well. They detail the construction process of previous projects. The wells in Gaighata require the same procedure.
***Thank you again for bringing arsenic and bacteria safe water to residents of Gaighata.***
Boring -making or enlarging a hole - comes first.
Concrete rings laid and course sand poured around.
PVC piping to carry water.
The final product.