Thursday, January 22, 2015

Water for Life

East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the Asian region, and Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita. Among our closest neighbors, it goes without saying that East Timor deserves and needs our assistance. As you know, we are in a partnership with the Timor Leste Health Fund based in the University of Sydney, but we are still looking for another project.

Being a mechanically minded person, I was searching for a scheme that would incorporate some kind of engineering aspect to its plan. After doing some research, I found that ADRA, an International Humanitarian organisation, is working on a project called ‘Clean Water’.

Basically, they target increasing the fresh water supply to the East Timor communities by digging wells and installing hand pumps. The ADRA East Timor Team is young and enthusiastic, and I’m really in favor of what they do. I called ADRA’s head office in Dili and you can imagine my surprise when the project manager who answered my call turned out to be a young man called Ben from Adelaide. Naturally, we clicked straight away, and in a few weeks from now, Rebelde will have its own well and pump installed in Viqueque.

There are a number of challenges associated with this project, the main one being well-digging. Ben explains what it's all about:

“In regards to our proposed plan, we are planning on constructing our own low cost, locally made, and easily used drilling rig that can be used to drill bore wells from at least 15-25 meters deep. The benefit of this system is that we don't have to use the expensive drilling companies which charge from $5000 - $20000 for just one bore well. Also, community members can help in the process, and if the drill bits break, we can easily fix them, or make others as we've found a welding company that can make the necessary parts. In terms of the hand pump, casing and filter, we can purchase the widely used dragon hand pump. Just yesterday at my house there was no power for the day, so all the electric bore wells couldn't function, however, just down the road the people were using the dragon hand pump (or at least a similar model) manually so that they could wash and use the water for latrines, etc, another benefit. These are very easily repairable as the pump is above the ground level, so no need to spend lots of time pulling the whole thing out of the ground, etc, and the spare parts (rubber / leather and washers) used can be found almost anyway."

Ben also enclosed a few photos of the pumps ADRA installed just recently.

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