Self-Supply Water improvement project

Self-Supply Water improvement project

Self-Supply Water improvement project

The Self-Supply Water improvement project empowered communities and trained local artisans and masons in Makoni District (Manicaland, Zimbabwe) to protect their drinking water sources by protecting upgrading their family wells. To compliment the hardware side of this project,  health promotion was facilitated through the Community Health Club methodology.


In 2016, Africa AHEAD in Zimbabwe completed some formative research initiated by Unicef ESARO (East and Southern African Regional Office) working with Skat Foundation, a leading research organisation based in Switzerland. This study evaluated the sustainability of Upgraded Family Wells (UFWs) which had been constructed over 20 years ago in Makoni and Buhera District, to see how they had survived. The findings showed that Self Supply using UFWs was a sustainable low cost model and there was evidence that improved most upgraded family wells were still operation and had been maintained. Furthermore it was clear that when Upgraded Family Wells were combined with Community Health Clubs, (as was the case in Makoni District, where some of the first CHCs ever started) this had led to market gardening and other income generating activities. This study has led to the adoption by the WASH Sector to prioritise UFWs to assist with the supply of water to communities where other models have failed. A Self Supply Study conducted by Skat Foundation (Switzerland) and Africa AHEAD in Zimbabwe in 2015 revealed that since initiation of Upgraded Family Wells around 1994, rural communities across most of Zimbabwe have kept digging and upgrading their own water points but the quality of workmanship has unfortunately been deteriorating while technical support from government has all but disappeared.

Despite lack of maintenance by District authority the commitment  of rural householders to keep improving their own water sources is more than evident in Zimbabwe which has suffered from almost total break down on government support for water maintenance as there is no water quality monitoring  thereby predisposing the community to a high risk of water and sanitation related diseases even when there is a safe water source which is functional.

The Project

In 2017, Skat raised funds from ZH2O/Drink&Donate to partner with Africa AHEAD to kick start the Self Supply Programme again in Zimbabwe with a pilot project. This consisted of 60 Upgraded Family Well in a six month programme costing US$35,000, including all management costs. This pilot has provided water to a household at US$563, or per person at US$97 per person. Africa AHEAD with the full participation of the community, has refreshed the demand for safe water by promoting ‘safe-water- chain’ knowledge within the communities, train well-diggers and masons, involve local private partners in rural water supply including water supply project management and documentation for villagers, and, most important, monitoring water quality in the old and new water points as well as ensuring water safety through promoting household water treatment. Communities paid the trained masons and well-diggers to provide their own UFW construction. Targeted subsidies were given to vulnerable households (child-headed households and the very poor and disabled community members) as demonstration units where the other community members will be able to copy and replicate.


Four Environmental Health Technicians (EHTs) and 16 masons were trained in well-siting, well-digging and lining. 60 wells were dug and lined at targeted households belonging to vulnerable members of the community, which served as demonstrations and models for the capable households. Of this number 52 wells were fitted with rope & washer lifting devices and 8 had tube wells. All CHC received training in general hygiene, collection, safe storage and use of water.


In total, 41 villages participated in this project which included working with 18 CHCs and 356 households as well as one school and 4 communal wells. In total 2,856 people benefited from clean drinking water. The number of households sharing the new water source were higher than targeted in the proposal, as there was an expectation of 4 households sharing one well, whilst in reality the average for 8 households sharing, with a range from 2 to 26 households. Only 11 wells were used exclusively by one household only. This reflects the desperation for water protection in the Makoni District, which is comparative well off compared to other areas of Zimbabwe.

For detailed information and pictures of each borehole please click here