W20 Improving water sources

HygieneWater Supply

Scoop holes can provide safer water if their sides are built up with shallow walls of stone, brick or concrete and the top is covered. Removing the base from a cooking pot with lid can also make a cheap and effective cover. Springs can be dug out and capped with walls of stones or cement blocks to provide good access to safe water through a pipe.

Hand-dug wells will improve water supplies in areas where natural water levels are reasonably close to the surface throughout the year. If the water level is very deep then drilling rigs will be needed. Hand-dug wells are usually between 5 and 15 metres deep and should be at least 20 metres from a latrine or rubbish area. They are only suitable in areas where the soil is not too sandy or rocky.

Protect the top of the well with reinforced concrete rings, stones or brickwork to prevent collapse of the walls. 

If possible, cover the top of wells with concrete slabs and use a pump to keep the water safe. Build up the area around the well surround in areas that suffer from flooding to protect the water supply. 

Ask everyone using waterpoints to first wash their hands. Build a soakaway for waste water.


  • Do many people use scoopholes, often in river beds or near ponds, as water sources in our area? How could these be improved? 
  • Are there any springs in our area that provide water? How regular are the supplies of water? Does anyone have any experience of clearing out the area around a spring and protecting it by building a wall around it? 
  • What kind of soils do we have in this area? Would they be suitable for digging hand-dug wells? 
  • Do people have any experience of digging hand-dug wells successfully? 
  • What facts should be considered when planning where to site a hand-dug well or any other water point?
  • What traditional methods are used when planning where to site a well? Are any of these methods still useful today? 
  • How could we encourage people to wash their hands before collecting water? 
  • How can animals be kept away from water points? 
  • Why is it a good idea to build a soakaway?