Staggering acrobatics: installing a water supply

In this 5-minutes video you’ll see how people install a safe water supply in one of our communities, including staggering feats of acrobatics!

Account of an installation process

For six days, the crew worked around the clock. One after another, galvanised iron pipes were screwed together and the whole string was slowly drilled down. A bamboo scaffolding with ropes and pulleys had been constructed to hold the weight of the drill string that was wrung into the ground by hand, using clamps and handle-bars. Deep under the surface, a drill bit was cutting through the sand, clay and stones. The muddy mixture was carried upwards along the exterior of the pipes by water that was pumped down through the pipes and the drill bit. Mud and cow dung were added for lubrication and thickness. This ensured that the surrounding soil would not collapse and wedge the pipes.

On the surface, samples of the excavated sediments were collected at regular intervals so that the supervisor could monitor the strata changes. After four days of heavy work, they hit rock. The workers held their breath, unsure whether the drill would grind through it or not. After about an hour, to everyone’s relief, the boring eased up again. The next morning, satisfied by the colour and consistency of the sediments, the supervisor knew they had reached the deep aquifer. His crew sang out in chorus: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!”

During the last couple of days, the tube-well itself was put in place. Half of crew climbed to the top of the scaffolding, grasped a rope that had been secured to the top of the drill string and jumped off, using their weight to pull out the metal pipes. Length by length, these were extracted and uncoupled. During this acrobatic operation, the other half of the crew were softening plastic tubes of PVC with fire, jamming and glueing them together. This had to be timed flawlessly because once the metal pipes were out, there was very little time before the soil in the open excavation would collapse on itself. In just a few minutes, the 220 meter long plastic tube was lowered down. Everybody sang out again. Finally, a hand-pump was fitted at the top and the base around it was cemented. This first deep tube-well from our program was completed in May 2002 and would provide drinking water to almost half of the 300 families of North Jalirpar.

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