The Joy of Clean Water - Update from WaterSchool

posted on Feb 17 2022

Solar-Powered Borehole

Over the years, you have supported WaterSchool to teach rural Ugandans how to make their drinking water safe using the power of the sun with the SODIS (solar disinfection) method. Thank you for your support — particularly for your generosity last year. 

Together, we have reached over a million people with this simple life changing technology.

SODIS has worked well in most places across Uganda where there is plentiful, but contaminated, surface water. But what about the places where it seldom rains? What happens to communities where surface water is scarce?

With your generous support last year, we started tackling this challenge by tapping into deep underground aquifers and bringing this water to the surface of communities in Uganda's dry corridors using solar-powered pumps. 

This past November, I travelled to Uganda and got to visit one of the communities where the solar-powered borehole that you helped to build was up and running - bringing clean, fresh water up to the surface. 

How does a solar-powered borehole work?

A pump powered by a large solar array draws water up from an underground spring and pumps it into a 10 meter high water tower for storage. From the tower, there is enough pressure to send the water by gravity to tap-stands in villages several kilometres away where community members can access it.  

The borehole I visited is producing more clean water than we had planned. Today, it pumps out 5,000 litres of water every hour – enough for all 5,000 people in the area's seven villages!

The community celebrated the grand opening of the system while I was there — choirs sang, bands played, and a play about clean water was presented. People were thrilled!

It can be hard to fully understand just how transformative this solar-powered borehole will be for the communities. The water families used to consume was not safe as it was often gathered from muddy ponds and stagnant streams shared with animals.  So people — especially young children — were regularly sick from diseases like typhoid and dysentery, and struggled with diarrhea and dehydration.  

With your help, this is no longer the case. With clean water at hand, there is no more wasted money on medicine for waterborne illnesses, no more missing school and work. There is plenty of water and best of all, it is clean.

Who will maintain the system?

One of the key parts of building the solar powered borehole has been establishing Water User Committees at each of the tap stands to manage the water points well and ensure longevity for the whole system. The committees have been trained on how to maintain the tap stands and the entire borehole system. Maintenance on the borehole system is funded by the small water-use fees each community member pays to the Committees.

Before I left, I headed to the tap stand and put my water bottle under the spigot, a beautiful stream of clean water gushed out — overflowing my bottle. 

As I took a sip of the cool, fresh water, I reflected on how grateful I am for you and your enduring support.

Doug and our friends at AWWOA, thank you for jumping in and supporting WaterSchool to build solar-powered boreholes alongside our continued work in SODIS training and hygiene/sanitation education. Thank you for your generosity.

You are helping to change the future for the people in Uganda we serve — I'm so grateful.

Tony Woodruff
Africa Program Director, WaterSchool

For more information about WaterSchool and AWWOA Charitable Donations, click here.