If you’ve been following Well Aware and our work, you’ve probably heard us talk about our team of technical or “tech” experts. We always mention how this is one of the main parts of our work that sets us apart and plays into our 100% success rate. But why? And, who are these experts?
This Water Awareness Month, we want to highlight this spectacular team of superheroes, how they make the work possible, and why it’s so important to have this technical expertise.
WHY TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IS CRITICAL FOR WATER PROJECTS
There are so many variables to consider in the planning of the projects we implement, from receiving the first project request form to a system expansion 5 years after system installation. And, there is not a step in this entire process that requires anything less than professional expertise in groundwater and infrastructure.
60% of water projects in Africa fail within the first year after implementation. This is what is referred to as the “Hidden Crisis” in the water sector. A primary reason for this is lack of technical oversight of the design, installation, and maintenance support of these systems. Many well-intended international charities focus on quantity over quality and have no technical staff or volunteers to guide proper water system integrity.
Well Aware is different.
Our technical experts (hydrogeologists and engineers) are involved with every step of project planning and design, implementation, and long-term care of this infrastructure. Our programmatic focus is to ensure that we’re truly meeting the needs of our beneficiaries for many years to come. Truly honoring and empowering our partner communities, to us, means providing a very strong foundation for success – with a water system that will last – for full ownership and community-led development.
No two of our 80+ water systems are technically the same. The amount of expertise and effort needed to properly design each and every water system is significant. From reviewing resistivity results in hydrogeological studies to calculating hydrostatic equilibrium for our gravity-driven pipelines, careful attention and long hours are required to customize every project.
The result of these efforts and focus is a beautiful new water system that can stand the test of time and perform at peak in its geological region.
WHAT MAKES OUR TECHNICAL EXPERTISE DIFFERENT
After the drilling of Well Aware’s first water well almost 12 years ago, Sarah Evans, our founder, will admit that she got really lucky. We hit water in a very successful way on that drill, but luck was a big driver in that. Knowing this, the first thing Sarah will explain she did when she got back home after that drill was to put together a team of technical experts- hydrogeologists (people who study the ways that groundwater moves through the soil and rock beneath the surface of the earth) and engineers (for structural design and water distribution planning) – who know and understand the regions we work in, as well as the cultural considerations in infrastructure design. Sarah knew that having this type of expertise guiding our project planning and implementation would be crucial to the initial and long-term success of these water systems.
Flash forward 12 years and we have an entire team of experts, both in the U.S. and in East Africa – some staff and some volunteers – who are devoted to our project success and longevity. This is one of the things that sets us apart. We are committed stewards of every donor dollar given to make clean water a reality for others, and we know the dilution of accountability and impact that can happen when organizations send money overseas without proper oversight. With our very own team of dedicated professionals, we are able to stretch every dollar even further to yield the greatest results for both communities and donors.
WHAT THESE TECHNICAL EXPERTS DO
At least one of our experts is always on project sites during implementation, whether that is a new borehole drill, a deep borehole rehabilitation, a natural spring pipeline, or a rainwater harvesting and purification system.
- Review hydrogeological surveys and borehole completion reports to inform drilling process, calculate budgets, and anticipate drilling challenges
- Oversee and work closely with drilling crews in East Africa to ensure correct drill decisions, such as final borehole depth and steel casing design
- Select down-hole equipment (solar-powered pumps) based on pump test results (water quality and yield), as well as community plans and water needs
- Design rainwater catchment and purification systems for maximum water capture to meet community needs and stand the test of time
- Design elevated structural support for water storage tanks to meet gravity driven pipeline needs for community distribution to appropriate water access points
- Work closely with our hydrogeologists to monitor well depth during drilling, assist in pump selection to meet distribution design demands, and calculate water point yields from well head yields for pipeline material and size selections
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Our hydrogeologists and engineers are the backbone of our 100% success rate. They are with our team every day to guide the technical side of our work, and so many people are so deeply grateful for them.
You may know the saying, “It Takes A Village.” This is certainly true for our clean water projects. That’s why, this Water Awareness Month, we hope you will join our monthly donor community, The Village. This is the best way to support our mission year-round and help more people in need gain clean water on a regular basis.