Conclusion of Soak Pits Project – Mali
This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer O’Keeffe. To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.
This project was to construct 475 soak pits, to be used for removing groundwater by draining it down into the earth.
The goals and objectives of the project were to build soak pits for every negen. The members of the community dug the well and gathered rocks for each negen and my work partners and I came in with plastic covering, cement, and piping to complete each soak pit and to disseminate information regarding water and sanitation.
Although the original plan was to create 475 soak pits, many of the negens required more material than was originally estimated, and so only 350 soak pits were completed.
I worked with 2 incredibly motivated masons in my village in building the soak pits. The arrangement was that each individual family who wanted a soak pit built dug the hole for the soak pit (roughly a meter wide and a meter deep) and then gathered enough rocks from the fields to fill that soak pit.
Once soak pit construction in the community began, villagers realized that soak pits are easy to construct and affordable as all of the materials required add up to less than 1,000 CFA. When families are building negens they can budget the cost of a soak pit into construction to account for those materials.
During project implementation we realized that negen water runoff varied depending on the number of people using a negen. This sometimes required a bigger soak pit and thus more materials in its construction. In addition some of the runoff holes that were originally built in the negens were crumbling and so made it difficult to cement the plastic piping into place. To solve this dilemma we purchased two brick molds to construct bricks and reform the base of the negen making it more stable and easier to cement the piping in place.
The community did reach the goals of the project in that as many soak pits as possible were constructed with the funds available and the community is motivated to continue moving forward with soak pit construction on their own.
The project built capacity by demonstrating to villagers how to best construct a structurally sound and sustainable soak pit. They gained knowledge in clean water practices, how to properly build a soak pit, how to maintain a soak pit once it is built, and the importance of soak pits in regards to water sanitation.
They have improved the capacity to define and meet goals and objectives by participating in the project from beginning to end and understanding how they can plan and complete projects on their own. They will have improved decision-making by putting the information they learned about clean water practices into use.
I want to thank you so much for your help with my project and in general for the work you do. In terms of being an effective volunteer, it makes all the difference to have contacts with organizations like yours and the people who run them.
We wish to thank Jennifer for completing this project, and again extend our gratitude to The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust for providing the funding.