Wassarabo Clinic Borehole System Project – Togo
This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.
Wassarabo village is located 25 kilometers northeast of Sokodé in the Tchaoudjo Prefecture. The population is around 1,100 and includes Tem, Kabyé, Losso and Fulani ethic groups. The majority of people are Muslims with a minority of diverse Christian congregations. Most are subsistence farmers cultivating the region’s tradition crops; maize, yams, manioc, sorghum, soy (often transformed into “tofu” – an important market product for women), beans and some vegetable gardening. Overall enough staple crops are grown to allow most households some measure of food security however malnutrition is a problem amongst both adults and children as the diet is starch-based with little protein.
Fifty households have a shallow, open well within their respective compounds but water quality is poor and often insufficient to last throughout the dry season. Arab NGOs have installed three closed wells with hand pumps while the village has only one borehole well located outside the village, allegedly of poor water quality.
The Red Cross is an active participant in training community youth on hygienic food transformation and preparation, HIV and STD prevention. The Wassarabo health clinic is a 7-room, cement-block building constructed in 1978 by the Red Cross and provided with an open, shallow well as the clinic’s sole water source. In 1987 the German government Aid Program closed the well, and installed the standard metal 4.5-meter-high water tower and polyethylene tank operated by a manual hand pump. The clinic is powered by electricity paid by the Ministry of Health.
The clinic serves a larger population of around 3,000 people which includes many of the surrounding villages which are scattered at some distance from the health clinic. The health center has eight community health workers (i.e. community individuals trained to identify household level health problems including childhood malnutrition, malaria detection and prevention) who work in villages outside the 5-kilometer radius of Wassarabo. Clinic staff treats predominantly malaria, parasites and gastro-intestinal diseases. The clinic birth rate is unusually low – currently estimated at an average of 5/month. Women in the neighboring villages evidently prefer to attend the local community health “hut” which is not supported by the Ministry of Health. It is anticipated with the advent of potable running water inside the Wassarabo clinic, more women will seek pre and post maternal health care for themselves and their infants as childhood malnutrition is a serious problem.
While indoor plumbing exists, the water tower/pump system has been inoperable since 1995 at which time the cement casing was broken to allow the clinic staff and the surrounding inhabitants to haul water manually. Water is currently accessed by bucket and rope hence introducing more contaminates from the surrounding ground surface. The existing well is shallow, of poor water quality and is without water mid-dry season. Staff and patients are required to haul water in plastic jugs to the clinic. Water for consumption is treated with bleach however unsanitary well water is used directly for cleaning surfaces and bedclothes.
This project is to build a borehole well for the clinic. Under the guidance of the Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation’s regional office in Sokode and with support from the Ministry of Health regional director, who identified clinics with the most critical need, and a local drilling company, this project proposes to drill a 60- to 100-meter borehole well at the clinic, equipped with the following:
• an electric submersible pump
• a 4.5-meter high cement block water tower
• a 2 meter3 polyethylene tank
• piping to the main intake valve at the clinic
The submersible pump will be connected to the municipal electric power supply. The local drilling company selected, Plomberie Génerale de Réalisation de Forage, in operation since 1998 and based in Tchamba, has extensive experience drilling deep borehole wells throughout Togo and regionally in Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria.
This project will be managed by Anne Jeton, hydrologist and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), Burkina Faso (’82-’85) and Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer (RPCRV), Togo (’16 -’17).
Anne was sent to Togo on behalf of Water Charity to develop and administer new projects, and to coordinate with Peace Corps.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Along with staff from the Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation who will monitor the well “indefinitely” (the well data becomes part of the official borehole well database, and as such is included in periodic field monitoring by technicians based in each Prefecture), the contract for well drilling states a one-year guarantee provided by the drilling company. Problems with pump and borehole functioning are typically resolved in the first month of use.
Proper screening of the borehole and submersible pump placement relative to the static water table often mitigate most common problems. However, any mechanical problems surfacing in the first year will be the responsibility of the drilling company.
The clinic staff will be responsible for maintaining a well repair account which will be funded from the sale of medicines. The clinic will decide a nominal fee for water use should the water account be insufficient, or the community will be asked to contribute directly to the costs.
This project has been funded by an anonymous donor.