Out of the some 4 million hand dug wells in Africa an estimated 50 % is dry at the end of the dry season. One reason is the lack of rainwater infiltration around the well because of compacted soils, erosion or shorter but heavy rains as a result of climate change. Options to increase the infiltration of rainwater are: small dams, cultivation on contour or planting of plants like vertiver. Another and new option is the so called Tube recharge. This option functions in areas with compact soils where rain flows away to rivers. The technology is based on Indian recharge technologies but simpler and cheaper. After a training, families themselves can apply it and increase water volumes in their well. The cost of materials for a Tube recharge is less than 10 USD and the volumes that can be recharged can be 100 to 500 cubic meters per rain season. A wide scale application of this technology could increase access of water for millions of people.
A major problem caused by climate change is the change in rain patterns. Rains in general are less reliable so there is an increasing need that rural families and small businesses have access to groundwater. One of the options to increase access to water in wells is groundwater recharge with options like the Tube recharge. The effect of the Tube recharge is long term and can only be seen after one or two rainy seasons. Information from Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania, however, shows that families who use and maintain the systems, now have water in the well all year round. Before the installation, the same wells were dry for two to three months per year.
Cost of a Tube recharge consist of:
1) Renting a 3 to 6 m long Soil punch that,can be made by any blacksmith. Cost ca 25 USD
2) A 3 meter PVC pipe of 3/4”. Cost 2-4 USD,
3) Sand and gravel as used for construction. Cost 1 USD
4) Cloth filter made of iron round bar of 1.5 meter, 1m2 polyester cloth and 3 m rope. Material cost 3-5 USD,
5) In case of labor, costs in Tanzania is ca 5 USD/day and number of days needs is 1 to 4
Total cost of a SHIPO Tube Recharge is 10 – 40 USD depending on material and labor costs.
Stage of development: ready for serial production
Training in this technology is given in SMART Centre SHIPO in Tanzania, and Mzuzu SMART Centre in Malawi. Although the SHIPO Tube recharge is a simple technology, experiences indicate “simple is not easy”. Several things can go wrong. If not done well the tube recharge does not function. In this technology “devil is in the detail”. Next important is to create demand. It is needed to create a critical mass of examples in a certain area. Once 5 % of families in an area have well functioning Tube recharges and see the benefits, other families will follow and invest in it.