Changing lives for years to come: Embrace Relief’s water wells in Chad

The water beneath the ground in the African country of Chad is like buried treasure. If you know where to look and how deep to dig, you can find something immeasurably valuable.

But for civil engineer Omer Karaca, drilling into the ground and digging a well that will allow entire villages in this developing country to access water – for sanitation, agriculture, cooking, cleaning and more – is just part of the task. He and his fellow engineers also have to ensure that their wells are built to last.

“If you follow all processes of constructing correctly, [a well] will provide clean water for at least 30 years minimum,” Karaca says. “Because Chad has one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world. It is an infinite water source.” 

Earlier this year, Karaca was one of the engineers working to build water wells in Chad as part of Embrace Relief’s Clean Water Initiative. To date, Embrace Relief has built or reconstructed 610 wells, providing life-giving clean water to more than 610,000 people in Chad and neighboring Cameroon.

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide lack access to a basic, improved source of clean water. In parts of the world like Chad, many people – especially women and children – must walk for miles each day to fetch water, often from a lake, pond or hole in the ground whose unprotected water could be breeding grounds for deadly bacteria and viruses.

“The villagers around this area need clean water,” Karaca says, as he overlooks the future site of a well in a village two hours north of Chad’s capital city, N’djamena. It’s a dry, hot day in February, and the dirt beneath Omer’s feet is a beige and dusty, the landscape broken up by green shrubs here and there.

“The only water source here is rainwater lakes. Villagers drink this contaminated water, but they need clean drinking water.”

‘Long life:’ How Embrace Relief builds its wells to last

A water well is a life-changing addition to any village. When communities have a reliable and accessible supply of water, Karaca explains:

  • They’re healthier, being less susceptible to the waterborne illnesses that kill millions worldwide each year. 
  • They’re more productive and wealthier, thanks to their new ability to grow (and sell) greater quantities and varieties of crops.
  • And they’re more educated, as the time children spend on fetching water can instead be spent in the classroom.

Because a well is so important to a community, the design and construction are crucial for ensuring that this water supply is sustainable over the long term. An poorly-conceived well could become obsolete and useless – or worse, contaminated – in as little as six months, Karaca says. This is why every Embrace Relief well is built to a high standard, following design practices researched with our partners on the ground in Africa. 

Boreholes are dug 45 meters (about 147 feet) into the ground, below the natural water level but deep enough to naturally filter any surface contaminants. This clean water then enters our sturdy PVC pipe, with sandblasted filter pipes removing any sediments. The villagers can then access this water at any time through the use of a hand-operated pump. Simple, effective, and sustainable.

“If you would like to have clean drinkable water, you should dig deep enough and install the sandblasting correctly,” Karaca says. “It also gives long life to your water well.”

And Embrace Relief’s commitment to the communities we serve goes beyond just the construction of the well. We pledge to never abandon a water well, and our donors’ support guarantees a minimum five-year guaranteed warranty that includes regular maintenance, annual checkups, and replacement of all operational parts of the well, which will ensure another five years of nonstop water flow capacity.

Water wells have the power to change the world and make life safer and better for millions of people in developing countries. And when we lift up our friends around the world, our world is stronger for it. Donating to Embrace Relief’s Clean Water Initiative is a relatively small investment that will improve thousands of people’s lives.

“Water is life. When a village has clean drinkable water life is completely changing,” Karaca says. “I found it very important to visit this area and open a water well for these people.  I am strongly advising you to come and visit Chad and understand their plight. Thank you.”