By Thibaut Demaegdt -- Back in August, blueEnergy received a kind visit from Paul Cloesen, a Belgian expert in Baptist well drilling, who trained blueEnergy water technicians on this appropriate technology. Paul had previously drilled more than 200 wells in several regions of Nicaragua, but he had never come to the Caribbean coast and the technology had not reached Bluefields.
Paul stayed for a week in Bluefields, during which he helped blueEnergy build the drilling tools and dig the first well. He trained us on all the aspects of well drilling, so that when he left, we felt confident that we could continue drilling wells on our own. Indeed, after Paul left, four additional wells were drilled and have proven to work well.
|Well beneficiary digging while Vince and Paul discuss|
A Baptist well consists of a 2” PVC casing with a home-made PVC hand pump. All the materials are locally available and the drilling tools were built in blueEnergy’s workshop. A 60-foot deep well costs approximately $50 in materials, plus the workforce of a 10-person team during a week. The beneficiaries are highly involved in the drilling process and are also trained on how to build their own pump. In case something breaks, they are, therefore, able to fix or replace it, which will make the wells sustainable.
Baptist wells are deeper than regular hand-dug wells, which makes it possible to pump water from less contaminated layers. Samples will be analyzed by the Health Department to confirm that the water quality of Baptist wells is better compared to regular wells. In a city such as Bluefields where the soils are heavily polluted, this could have important sanitary repercussions.
|Pumping water from a finished well|
This pilot project has been a bigger success than expected: many people in Bluefields have heard of the wells and want one. So far, blueEnergy has not figured out the best way to meet the demand and spread this technology...carry out the whole drilling process, train people to drill their own well, perhaps?
A project for 30 wells in Bluefields funded by French institutions has recently been approved and will start in early 2011. Baptist wells are also a suitable technology for remote communities where the density of population is low and traditional wells are too costly to be considerate as a viable alternative.