Water Well Journal

November 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/592194

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Page 16 of 90

SMART Centre was able to recognize individuals with more business and marketing skills and encouraged them to partner with individuals with more technical skills. Most of these partnerships failed for a variety of reasons, and it was recognized partnerships cannot be created from outside, but must form naturally between business partners who recognize the strengths the partner can bring to a com- pany. To date, only one such partnership is currently function- ing—with one partner handling contracts and finances, and the other partner overseeing the drilling. An additional challenge with a manual drilling business is the financial risk of drilling a well. The drillers who were trained by the SMART Centre do not have access to funds to cover losses in cases where a well does not provide water, and subsequently they are not paid by the client. Every drill site is a risk. One option to improve this is ongoing training on the importance of strong contracts with clients and to promote drilling in easy-drilling locations during business start-up years. Until now, most manual drilling businesses do not qualify for most bank-issued loans due to a lack of having an account history and collateral. Additionally, standard bank loans have 35% to 45% annual interest in Malawi. The SMART Centre began training initially at drilling sites near Mzuzu, which made sense logistically but the sites were often hydrogeologically difficult. With time, it was recognized alluvial formations consisting of only sands and clays are beneficial for the drillers to first obtain both technical and business skills before moving to more hydrogeologically complicated sites. Learning Drillability Large-scale efforts to determine man- ual "drillability" have been undertaken in other African countries. Despite the limited SMART Centre budget, there is now a grassroots approach to make "drillability maps" with the entrepre- neurs. This is accomplished when drillers provide drilling logs with infor- mation on soils, depth of water, and well capacity. This information, combined with GPS data, uses Geographic Information System ESRI software to map locations based on being easy, medium, or diffi- cult. In this way, the Centre can deter- mine appropriate areas for training, expand local business opportunities, and make continuous improvements and refinements. For the water entrepreneurs, it gives information on areas where it is easy to drill—resulting in more promising areas for doing business. However, drilling is relatively complex and long-term training is needed. In February 2015, through a National Groundwater Research and Educational Foundation grant, Steve Schneider, MGWC, and Bob DiFilippo, PG, facilitated a three-day training course on "Constructing Safe and Sustain- able Groundwater Supply Wells" in Mzuzu for the manual drilling businesses trained by the SMART Centre. The grant was from the Foundation's Developing Nations Fund. The course was targeted toward drillers, pump install- ers, government employees, and students. Schneider and DiFilippo taught skills on proper well construction, ethics, drilling fluid application, and project sustainability. They also not only provided technical training, but first- hand experience, lessons, and struggles from their own groundwater businesses. Schneider's Water Supply Well Guidelines for Use in Developing Countries were supplied to each company. The workshop included many interactive dis- cussions where practical and useful experiences were shared to improve both the products of the companies and the drilling conditions within the working environment. In conclusion, it is expected newly established manual drilling businesses will be able to provide a larger percentage of the overall water supply in Malawi and other similar coun- tries. The long-term result from promoting business and water in Malawi will be an improved and more sustainable access to water and sanitation. When manual drilling businesses construct safe and sus- tainable groundwater supply wells, they also improve the local economy and decrease dependence on donations. WWJ The SMART Centre focuses on training local water entrepreneurs improving access to water serving small communal water systems. WWJ November 2015 13 Twitter @WaterWellJournl

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