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Martin!
Yes, water is such an issue! I work with village leaders who in turn pull their entire communities together to implement solutions to their greatest needs.
In response to how to make the best use of water while it exists, we have tried many things. None of this includes digging wells (the water is too deep for most drilling projects – which are expensive, few and far between.
1. We encourage damming water up. The smallest stream can be the way the water comes. The dam can be very simple but effective for at least more of the year. Men also go to wherever there IS water and bring back fish alive – so that they can spawn and end up giving more protein to the diets of people (or selling them but this is hard since ponds become over-fished quickly). A good rain can fill up large containers which can last for some time and save women/girls (mostly) from water searches and lost time at school, or in dong other activities.
2. We encourage roof-top water harvesting. Since people are increasingly using corrugated metal roofs, we help create simple gutters of the tin to gather the rainfall and bring them down to the side of the house into barrels – or if there is enough wealth, to a large water storage made of cement. Etc. There are some excellent models (and plans) especially on the web related to water storage efforts in India
3. For safe water, we were using a kidney dialysis filter converted for water – but found these are too expensive. Now we use a small amount of water +salt with an electric shock from a motorcycle battery (12 volt) to make chlorine (full strength was used in the ebola breakout). 4 drops of that per gallon makes safe water. This costs us $50 per whole village – and even, if someone makes lot of it, in small towns. If there are extra units, this can be used even for even small and larger cities!. Introduction is being done by 3 hours of teaching of women (or men) where they also learn WASH and applications for using the water/ chlorine for bathroom and sanitation use, drinking water, and sterilization of hospitals etc. This thus helps us focus on the issues of recontamination. Since we work with health workers, they can continue to work with people in the future to re-teach and ensure proper water-handling for ensuring safety in water use related to drinking, cooking, washing dishes, etc. etc. plus water storage and necessary use of soap and water for cleanliness in bathroom, cooking, and eating habits

This is a basis for businesses, but we have found that this process can ensure that the women can establish their own distribution systems through their places of worship, schools etc. so that EVERYONE has a fresh and abundant supply of this water purification. We also teach how to remove turbidity (dirt) from the water so that the taste greatly improves. This added process also removes cysts and parasites plus stopping ALL waterborne diseases. In our area, before the introduction of safe water, 3 of 5 live-birth children died by the time they were 5 from waterborne diseases. Now in areas with clean water, medical clinics etc. are reporting NO deaths from this cause (IF) families use safe water.!!! This is in rural Tanzania – and culture has actually helped us since there is the desire to protect family and a sense of local responsibility to each other.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write back to my email at uitsvca7@gmail.com
God Bless You - Carolee Uits  Growing Communities "for resilient sustainability!"

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Carolee commented on SWITCH Soil Water Increase Thanks to CHar

Noel! I read the response you were given. I will also add that I work with village leaders as THEY implement projects that their entire village decides to do. At this point, I have found a farmer who has training in agronomy at the secondary school level. He is using it and is becoming the regional expert in biochar. Since we work with a regional church project, we can have church leaders send delegations to him to learn how to do it. The hardest problem is getting large container to make the biochar in. We are experimenting in burning it just like people do in making bricks by covering the biochar (in a pit) with soil except making sure there is a bit of oxygen that still gets in. If you come up with other solutions, let us know so we all can resolve this problem. It is really neat when the biochar farmers end up being able to sell their products while everyone else is still in the hunger season - and they get the BEST prices- and such a better harvest! Thanks. God Bless!

Martin, thanks for responding.
I like your SMS idea. While definitely not all people have cell phones, many, even in the villages do - although reception is often non-existent or very poor. The problem is also access. The roads are absolutely lousy in the dry seasons. Big potholes turn autos upside down or destroy shafts. A few people own bikes and use them as water transporters. With the mountains we are in, they are few in comparison to the need. This leaves walking - 3+ hours in the good seasons. So maybe, once we have the SMS it will help some. We have limestone under our feet throughout the region and so, there must be water deep down somewhere closer. What we are looking for is a cheaper and more accessible well-drilling process.

While surface water will last for awhile because of the clay deposits, the pans do not last long and digging works for only a short while ( a village may have 6,000-15,000 people relying on them)

Each year, there are one or two well-drilling volunteer teams drilling 2-3 wells each year - in an area the size of Ohio in the USA. The costs, when I enquire are around $20,000 USD and more - each.
If this information further assists you, good. I look forward to other solutions. Right now, I do stop-gap chlorination of the totally unsafe water that many places can keep going year-long. We strain the mud with fabric - not optimal and still not tasty - but at least 3-5 babies might live to age 5 this way.
Thanks Martin for your willingness to keep the correspondence and future information flowing.
Carolee