Wells in Africa

Wells in Africa and GFA’s Clean Water Projects

Drought, water scarcity and pollution are all contributing more and more to the water crisis in Africa, so it is becoming increasingly important to provide more clean water solutions like wells in Africa, BioSand water filters, and improved water infrastructure when able, to slow the trend. It may be difficult to understand how anyone could struggle to find enough water on a planet that has 71 percent of its surface covered by it. However, we must remember that 96.5 percent of that water is contained in the oceans and is undrinkable. And of the freshwater on earth, much more is stored in the ground than is available in the world’s rivers and lakes. Though much of the groundwater is within a half mile of the surface, it is much more challenging to collect from underground than from a stream.[1] The words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” ring true today more than ever: “Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.”[2]

Running out of water might seem like a problem relegated only to undeveloped regions of the world that have no indoor plumbing, but the issue affects big cities too. A 2014 study of the world’s 500 largest cities found that one in four of them were experiencing water stress, including Cape Town in South Africa, Sao Paulo in Brazil, London in England, Tokyo in Japan and Miami in Florida. Over a billion people worldwide lack access to water, and another 2.7 billion experience scarcity for at least one month out of the year. According to UN-endorsed projections, this crisis will only increase as it is expected that the global demand for freshwater will exceed the supply by 40 percent in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.[3]The problem of water scarcity may seem distant—a problem for someone else—but it is impacting people in our own nations, and there is no guarantee that it won’t affect us next. Combating water scarcity is essential for us all.

With such a crisis, many organizations seek ways to tap into the large groundwater supply by providing clean water solutions like water wells in Africa and worldwide. However, as Jamie Skinner of the International Institute for Environment and Development in London puts is, “It is not enough to drill a well and walk away. … In the Menaka region of Mali, 80 percent of wells are dysfunctional. … In Northern Ghana, 58 percent need repair.” In total, an estimated 50,000 recent boreholes, pumps and wells installed with foreign aid are now derelict, defunct and contaminated for want of basic maintenance. That equates to $300 million of investment wasted. The key problems are badly designed wells, poor construction and a lack of maintenance. There is no point in creating a well and passing it over to the local community if they can’t afford or don’t know how to maintain it. It is then nothing more than a temporary aid.[4]

These statistics are a bit disheartening, but GFA World’s “Jesus Well” project is a successful model that has become one of the largest clean water initiatives in the world. We’ve installed tens of thousands of clean water wells across Asia over the many years of serving in those countries. In recent years, we’ve added to existing wells in Africa through adding to the water infrastructure in Kigali Rwanda, providing vastly increased accessibility to clean water in those areas. Clean water projects installed by GFA are not abandoned or neglected because GFA pastors and their congregations personally oversee and care for the wells. When possible, Jesus Wells are installed near local churches to make maintenance simple and to show the genuine compassion and care of the church and their God. Clean water is offered to everyone, regardless of background, which is a display of God’s love in action.[5]

GFA’s current clean water projects in Rwanda achieve the same goal as clean water wells in Africa: make clean water more accessible to people who are in need. In rural areas where infrastructure doesn’t exist to be improved on, bore wells we install have shown to be an effective solution. They are constructed resiliently, making them immune to the effects of droughts, and each well is built to last. Though the rubber seals should be replaced every four years, the heavy-duty handpump is designed to operate 20 million cycles before requiring repair, which means it has a lifespan of up to 20 years with 8 hours of daily use. Using standard specifications in each well allows for simple repair since replacement parts can be easily obtained at a minimal cost. By using local contractors and simple equipment to drill many wells at a time, the price per well remains comparatively low.[6] The wells serve an average of 300 people, an entire community, saving them from thirst and waterborne illnesses for years.[7]

Consider partnering with GFA in this effort to cover the cost of a water project or well in Africa. Our clean water projects meet the physical and spiritual needs of communities. The tangible display of God’s love has a major, life-giving impact. We have installed the first two water projects in Rwanda and plan to install many more on this continent to alleviate the water crisis.[8] We rely on donations for this ministry to continue; it doesn’t take much to provide clean water and change a life forever.

Learn more about building wells in Africa

[1] “How Much Water Is There on Earth?” Water Science School. USGS. November 13, 2019. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/how-much-water-there-earth.
[2] Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Poetry Foundation. Text of 1834. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43997/the-rime-of-the-ancient-mariner-text-of-1834.
[3] “The 11 Cities Most Likely To Run out of Drinking Water—Like Cape Town.” BBC News. February 11, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959.
[4] Pearce, Fred. “‘Wasted’ Wells Fail To Solve Africa’s Water Problems.” NewScientist. March 24, 2009. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16835-wasted-wells-fail-to-solve-africas-water-problems/.
[5] Mains, Karen Burton. “The Global Clean Water Crisis.” GFA World. March 20, 2018. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/global-clean-water-crisis/#fn:11.
[6] “Clean Water: Clean Water through Jesus Wells.” GFA World. Accessed July 29, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/water/jesus-wells/.
[7] “Clean Water.” GFA World. Accessed July 29, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/water/.
[8] “GFA World Expands Ministry to Africa.” GFA World. Accessed July 29, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/africa/.