Making the Invisible Visible

March 21st, 2022

It’s a fun moment for the kids from Washeni Village in Zambia as they test their new India Mark II handpump.

Moments like these are celebrated many times across Zambia and Mozambique each year as our partners ECHO and Watsan reach out.

This year we are celebrating groundwater, highlighting its importance, and sharing some insight into how we access it.

Groundwater – found underground in aquifers, rocks and soils – makes up about 99% of all liquid freshwater on earth, and is abundant in much of Africa (source). While there is always a danger of over-exploiting, much of the groundwater across Africa has yet to be accessed. Tapping into it has long lasting health benefits for communities and is the job and skill of our local partners.

Availability, water depth, rock makeup, and water quality, are just some of the complexities that must be considered long before any work begins on a new waterpoint.  

Locating the right spot is important. A latrine near a borehole might be a bad idea where groundwaters flow in the wrong direction. Hard rock makes drilling difficult, sometimes the chemical make-up of the rock can contaminate the water.

We have reached 1,740,452 people to date


An example of manual drilling underway at Liyolele village, Zambia. High pressure water forces soil and rock sediment to the surface as men turn the cutting tool down towards the groundwater
Borehole completed at Washeni, and the pump put in place
Testing for the first time

Western Zambia, where we work, is fortunate to have a high water table and soft sandy landscape, making it easy and cheap to drill for water. But central Zambia and Manica province in Mozambique can be hilly and rocky – drilling will cost more and require different tools.  

Our partners make it all happen, they know the landscape and have trained hydrologists who can work out the best solution for a village. They will tie in with local government regulations so that groundwater is preserved and sustainable down the line. And while at the village, they will also pass on useful advice on hygiene and sanitation, often completely new information for some of Zambia’s very remote communities.

Original water source at Washeni
Village Water partners ECHO deliver a health and safety training to the Washeni community
Mr. Ntamba, wife and daughter.

Moses Ntamba lives in Washeni with his wife Grace & their 3-year-old daughter Magret. Farming (maize and soya bean) is the family’s main source of income. He told our local partner;

Life before the borehole was drilled was difficult. We had to spend a long time carrying buckets on our heads from far away water sources, leading to neck strain. As the water was not safe, we suffered from diarrhoea and skin itching and our daughter often had ring worm. It was hard to farm sometimes with the stomach aches I had. We used to have to boil the water to make it safe, which meant time looking for wood. Now that the project is complete, we have safe water close to home. Water borne illnesses have reduced and we’ve got hope and confidence to do other things without worrying about being sick all the time.

Thanks to the hard work and knowledge of our partners ECHO, to the The James Tudor Foundation who funded the new waterpoint and, to groundwater hidden beneath their feet, Washeni community now has a better future ahead of them.