"This has been a new world for me"
Gracious Sikalela is CEO of Grimus Enterprise. After hand-digging wells for 10 years, which is laborious and can be dangerous, Gracious decided to set up her own business. With the help of Village Water, she has been trained in efficient and safe manual drilling techniques, and her business is going from strength to strength.
To hand dig a well using the old methods is a daunting task:
“I have to be inside the well digging out sand/rocks. It takes me at least two weeks to complete a well which is usually not more than 10 meters.”
To combat this issue, Village Water supports local people to set up their own enterprises, teaching them the safe, and efficient method of manual drilling. It is not only cheaper than the government's preferred method of mechanical drilling, but because the tools needed are so light, they can be transported easily to sandy regions unreachable by mechanical rigs. Before signing up to Village Water’s training course, Gracious was worried about how she would cope as a woman with the heavy machinery.
“At first when I heard of manual drilling training, I thought it was so tough for a woman to be lifting the pipes that are so heavy and to be drilling the well, but during the training I learnt that it was so easy. As a woman I was able to lift the pipes and all manual drilling equipment to any desired positions.”
It now takes Gracious just one day to drill a well of 30m, which is three times deeper than hand dug wells. This makes the well not only more climate resilient, but as it is 14x quicker than hand-digging, she can expand her enterprise to employ more people in her local community.
“Using the manual drilling method, my enterprise has drilled 17 bore holes so far. This has given us so much experience and drilling has become so interesting and easy. Our drilling speed increases each time we are at a new site.
"We have all the skill and we are empowered. We have even started some savings for the equipment. By the end of the year I think every enterprise shall have its very own drilling kit.”
Manual drilling not only provides communities with access to safe, reliable water, but it has allowed Gracious to plan for the future of her blossoming business, and her family.
“I personally hope to market myself and break our dependency on Village Water for work. I hope to open a hand pump spare part shop, so that I can invest in my enterprise and be able to train 2-3 more drilling groups.”
“I have to appreciate what Village Water has done to my life. I’m now able to take my children to school, pay my workers and do other things for myself as a woman. Today here I own an enterprise which is being contracted by Village Water and also even by private persons and other organisations.”