Sustainability and well functionality are major challenges for the entire water aid world.  Many water organizations exist to provide clean water, but frequently wells dry up or break down within a few years.  Marion Medical Mission faces those same difficulties, but has found a maintenance process that returns high levels of success.  Of the 19,000+ MMM wells built since 1990 we are reported at 92% functionality, a number that we’re continually working improve.

So how do we maintain such high well functionality when it’s such a challenge?  Or more accurately, how do the communities maintain such high well functionality?  Two words: infrastructure and ownership.  Here at MMM we believe that each village community must take ownership over their well for it to be sustainable.  And with an organized and committed group of Field Officers, installation supervisors, builders, maintenance people, water committee members and villagers, these communities are provided a vehicle to sustainability.

Here’s how it works…

A water committee is selected to preside over the well and then two local volunteers are chosen to maintain it.  Those two people are trained by Marion Medical Mission in Well maintenance procedures.

When a well requires repair, the water committee contacts their local maintenance person and within 48 hours he comes and fixes the well.  Once a well has been fixed, the villagers give the maintenance person chicken, rice, vegetables or some other type of gift to compensate them for their time and effort.

Additionally, each village pays an annual fee of approximately $10 to cover the cost of spare parts.  If the fee is paid and correct procedures are followed, the well is to be fixed without any extra cost to the villagers.

Pump parts are readily accessible because MMM has set up workshops in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania where all the parts are manufactured by skillfully trained subsistence farmers.  The maintenance person receives parts from these manufacturing and distribution centers, which are stocked with extra inventory for yearly maintenance needs.

This system has worked for MMM so far, but we are always working to improve it. Funds can be donated directly to this purpose. Our goal is to provide safe, sustainable, sources of clean drinking water that will meet the villagers’ needs indefinitely.