Building Water Wells in Bolivia

Building a well in Omereque, Bolivia in 2017.

Building a well in Omereque, Bolivia in 2017.

Rural community leaders approach us regularly with requests to help them access water. Extensive discussions lay the groundwork for developing formal agreements among the elected community leaders, municipal officials and Mano a Mano, and define, prior to initiating the project, the contributions and responsibilities of each participating entity.

Mano a Mano provides required machinery and raises partial funding for construction and skilled labor.  Community residents contribute the unskilled labor, any locally available building materials such as sand, gravel, or stone, and a portion of the funds. Local governments may also provide a portion of the funds, as well as engineering expertise.

Building Water Wells – Step by Step

Surface wells are designed to access water that flows underground near river banks. These wells provide the water access method of choice for communities that are close to a river. Mano a Mano constructs these wells by implementing the following steps:

  1. Transport the excavator and other required equipment to the site.
  2. Dig a wide hole for the well that will be 7 meters deep, using the excavator.
  3. Place a stack of cement rings (each ring is about 1 meter high) into the hole up to ground level. The lower layer rings are designed to allow water into the stack. Mano a Mano manufactures these rings on site to reduce costs.
  4. Fill the hole around the perimeter of the ring stack with river rock to about 1 meter wide on all sides and up to ground level.  Water will seep through the rock, through the cement rings and be retained in the interior of the stack.  When water is taken from the well, water that is held in the rock will re-fill the well. The wells will draw from below-surface water down to 24 feet below the river bed.
  5. Farmers extract water from the well through a 2” diameter flexible hose.
  6. Community residents, through their Association of Irrigators (Sindicato de Regantes), set fees and norms for use of water.

52 Water Wells Built to Date

To date, Mano a Mano has completed 52 water wells that provide Bolivian farm families with access to water for irrigation, livestock and household use.