Kaniche is a thriving local hub straddling the road which crosses the river, and heads towards Bokola and the string of villages off in the distance. Its larger size and the fact it’s near the road means that Kaniche has a number of shops and tea rooms bustling with people. Borehole number one is to be placed at a crossroads towards the north end of the village and we hope to hit water just next to the church. This location is perfect as not only the busy market area, but a good number of houses, will have a water source which will be much closer to home than the river bed.
This site is also attractive from a geological point of view and everybody seems confident we will hit water on the first attempt, so confident, the drilling contractor had rather bravely decided against a second site so this one simply must work.
Around 100 people had come to meet us and Mr Khombe was there to formally greet us along with the Group Village Head Man Kaniche, the most senior person in the area, who gave the the warmest of Malawian welcomes. The local water committee were also on hand and a knot of men stood away from the rest of the crowd earnestly consulting their plans. Local committees are vital to the success of thse projects as it is they who will oversee the work, and ultimately take ownership of the waterpoint on behalf of the community once it is installted. They looked on sternly as they checked the engineers’ work against the plan they had agreed a couple of weeks ago. The committee and the engineers formed a tight cluster around the machinery and the thumbs up was given for drilling to start. For the first 15 meters progress was fast, but at around 20 meters drilling stopped. We had hit solid rock.
Every single drilling rod which had already been sunk had to be painstakingly removed so that the alternative drilling head could be added. The new drill was nearly as big as a person and needed two people to haul it into position. Drilling through rock is a much slower process than earth, drilling slowed down, and vast plumes of dust pored from the borehole for the duration of the dig, it was much nosier. Mr Khombe, a builder who has been a key figure in latrine construction, was impressed by the professionalism and speed that the engineers work. ‘They are good men, they work fast. I am happy’.
Water comes to Kaniche
Like the second borehole in Bokola, we had suddenly hit water, but this time it was an amazingly powerful surge and within minutes the contractors were wading through what looked like wet cement. Kaniche has water and the celebrations started instantly. Mary half danced, half walked to the borehole with buckets to test the flow. The buckets filled so quickly that they overflowed in a matter of seconds. The drilling team are hopeful that the water source is so powerful that it may be able to support irrigation of the adjoining vegetable plots.
The party atmosphere was helped by the arrival of the local ‘health band’ who are provided by the hospital, to deliver health messages through music. Their thumping Afrobeat songs promote good hygene practices and talk about the benefits clean water will bring. The well development process which forces water into the borehole, resulted in jets of water surging more than five meters into they sky. Children dared each other to put their hands into the water flow, while others danced and jumped in the growing pool. They were soon vying for space with the women who had brought an immeasurable number of buckets and bowls to catch the falling water. We ended the day with the sound of Afrobeat in our ears, as in front of us, a steady flow of women left their new borehole carrying clean water to their homes for the first time.