The World's Most Precious Resource

Written by
FH staff writer
Published on
March 21, 2022 at 2:59:00 PM PDT March 21, 2022 at 2:59:00 PM PDTst, March 21, 2022 at 2:59:00 PM PDT

Food for the Hungry (FH) helps communities in all our partnered countries improve their access to clean, safe water supplies. But the method used depends on the location - the topography, underground aquifers, locally available materials and skills, and weather. Here’s a few examples of what we’re doing—with your help!—to ensure everyone can tap into the world’s most precious resource.


Boreholes are narrow shafts drilled into the ground. They require special machinery and use a pipe casing and screen to stop the well from collapsing and to prevent the water from being contaminated from outside sources, as well as filtering out sand and sediment as a pump draws up the water. In refugee and IDP camps, FH has joined with partners to use this fast and efficient method of accessing water held deep underground to bring relief to those in emergency situations.

Hand-dug Wells

Using sturdy, accessible tools like picks and shovels, ropes and buckets to dig wells is one of the simplest and most reliable methods to access clean groundwater. It does not require complex technology or electricity, and the skills needed are easy enough to learn and share. It’s also fairly inexpensive, as the primary costs are labourers’ wages. An added benefit of hand-dug wells is their wide diameter which may allow more water to seep into the well than a narrow borehole dug in the same place. 

Measures must be taken to ensure the safety of those digging the well. Wearing hard-hats and basic harnesses attached to a tripod pulley system at the surface helps protect diggers, while inserting supportive concrete rings prevents the walls from caving in. Soil samples must be taken before digging commences to ensure availability and potability of water, and to ensure the soil is amenable to hand-digging (rock does not react well to pick-axes!). To protect the well water from contamination, the opening is sealed with a concrete “apron”, a lid is installed, and a hand pump attached to draw up clean water. 

This is the most common way FH helps communities establish long-term sources of clean water.

Tube Wells

A tube well is dug manually; no mechanized equipment necessary. First, a steel pipe with a sharp blade is inserted into the ground and used to dig into the soil (unlike the hand-dug well, no one actually climbs into the hole to swing a pickaxe). After that, plastic tubes are slid into the narrow hole. At the base of the well are filters which strain out sand, allowing clean water to be sucked to the surface via a hand pump. And, voila! Clean water right out of a tap!

FH uses this method in higher density areas like Bangladesh, allowing families access to water in their very own backyards.

Capped Springs

In hilly or mountainous areas, water flows naturally from underground to the surface creating springs which are used by communities around the world as their main water supply. Free-flowing, open springs are excellent sources of water, however, they become easily contaminated by debris, animals who come to drink, or people simply washing clothes or bathing. By “capturing” the spring source and diverting it to a tap, the water can be protected from contamination and muddying. 

FH helps communities in very hilly areas, like Burundi, to cap their many springs, protecting their water from contamination.

Rainwater Harvesting

When clean, free water falls from the sky, you don’t want to waste it! Rainwater harvesting makes use of the larger roofs on buildings such as schools and hospitals to funnel rainwater into pipes that feed into water storage tanks. These systems capture water for handwashing, cleaning, and washing laundry. The water can be filtered or chlorinated for drinking, as well. The storage tanks protect the water from evaporation and contamination.

FH supplies schools with large water catchment tanks and helps them install the system so students have access to clean water, dramatically improving health, hygiene, and sanitation.

Piped Water

Natural springs coming off the mountains provide communities with a unique opportunity to take advantage of gravity and get water into their homes. A community will purchase a spring, build a catchment and water distribution tank, install a chlorination system, and then create a network of pipes to get water into each and every home in the community.

Unlike a capped spring which has one outlet that everyone shares, piped water takes this precious resource all the way to each family's home. No more walking for hours to collect water—it just comes out of the tap!

In Guatemala, FH has helped communities fund and organize piped water projects to expand access to clean water.

Water Filtration & Purification

Many communities have ample access to water, they simply need a way to purify it. By boiling their water or utilizing locally-sourced ceramic or bio-sand water filters, families can dramatically improve their health. In Cambodia, FH has seen a high adoption rate of the use of water filters with the joyful result of fewer sick children.

Join us as we help bring clean, safe water nearer to families all over the world!

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