Frequently Asked

How does a well only cost $350?

The well cost is so low because the community provides much of the labor and material. Villagers build the brick, provide the stone, and contribute unskilled labor towards the project. Through that process, the community is engaged and empowered to take ownership and care of their well into their own hands. Our contribution is simply to provide essential pump parts that are beyond the affordability of these communities.

I've typically heard of water projects costing much more? Should I avoid funding those?

Of course not! A shallow well is only feasible in regions where conditions are geologically feasible. Other types of solutions (deep boreholes, rainwater catchments, treatment systems), are often employed in different settings and for specialized purposes. Due to higher labor and material costs, these projects are often more expensive, though just as necessary for providing clean water. WellDone is involved in several such projects, as are other organizations. These projects are just as critical in providing clean water for communities in need.

Is water from a shallow well safe to drink?

The shallow wells are sited and constructed such as to minimize potential risk of water contamination. From the mid-point on up to the surface, the space behind the bricks lining the well is filled with clay to seal out surface water and prevent contamination. An apron is built around the well on the surface. The apron is incorporated to prevent surface water from getting down beside the well and possibly contaminate it. A drain runs out from the apron to carry any excess water or rain water away from the well, also to prevent contamination. Despite these safeguards, contamination of shallow wells remains a risk due to potential interaction with surface water sources - a risk which is mitigated to the extent feasible. The shallow wells nonetheless offer a vast improvement over current water sources for these communities.

What are the construction details of a shallow well?

Shallow wells are hand dug wells, approximately 10 to 20 feet deep, and 6 feet across. They are lined with bricks from the bottom up to about 2 ft above ground. A concrete top slab is put on the top to seal it and a Mark V hand pump is installed in the top slab. A concrete apron, 1 meter wide, is installed around the well with a drain leading off. The villagers dig the well and make the bricks to line it. The bricks are laid by a trained African builder.

How long do the wells last?

If the villagers take care of the well and pay their annual maintenance fee, the well will be repaired if it should break. Each community falls within a larger geographic zone, in which a designated zone manager is trained in well repair and has access to replacement parts. If some of the parts of the pump break, assistance to the community is provided through this management infrastructure.

Where do you get your parts for the wells?

All of the parts for our wells are made in Africa by Africans. Most of them are made in country - Malawi mostly. The cement is made in either Tanzania or Malawi. The above ground pump mechanism is made from galvanized pipe which is cut and threaded into the pump in our field partner’s workshop in one of the 3 countries. The downhole pipe is PVC pipe extruded in Lilongwe, Malawi. The downhole parts, the foot valve, plunger etc, are manufactured in a machine shop in Lilongwe.

Can I specify where my well is installed?

Unfortunately, this is not possible. The locations of the wells, which villages get them and where they are located within a village are all determined at the local level - not from the top down. We cannot install wells in scattered or isolated locations - they must be relatively near other shallow wells and the support system. This allows one maintenance man to support 5 to 10 wells within a walking distance. The actual villages to get wells are decided at the local level where they best know the needs and abilities of each village.

How do you implement your shallow well program?

We work with a trusted field partner, Marion Medical Missions, to oversee and implement the projects. The program is administered by Africans, for Africans, with intimate knowledge of local conditions.

Is my contribution actually used to fund the specific part that I choose?

Yes, your contribution is indeed allocated towards the part(s) that you selected. This is possible as the shallow wells follow a consistent design, one that has been time-tested in thousands of villages over the past decade. In some cases, changes do arise to better adapt to local field conditions, that may result in slight discrepancies in the contribution to part equation.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Yes, your donation goes directly towards WellDone International, a 501(c)3 organization. The e-mail confirmation you receive from Google Checkout suffices as a donation receipt for tax purposes. Should you require further documentation, please contact