Wells Bring Hope: The Fulfillment of a Vision
Q. What is your mission and vision?
A. Wells Bring Hope (WBH) is committed to drilling wells to bring safe water and sanitation to rural villages in Niger, West Africa, the poorest country in the world. Our mission is saving lives with safe water.
Q. How did Wells Bring Hope get started?
A. Wells Bring Hope was founded in March 2008 by Barbara Goldberg after a talk given by former LA County District Attorney Gil Garcetti to Salon Forum, a women’s group started by Barbara for personal and cultural enrichment. The group was inspired by his talk about the water crisis in West Africa and decided to take action, which led to the founding of Wells Bring Hope. Gil has been an integral part of its success, speaking to many community groups to generate awareness and raise money.
Q. Why water?
A. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “No other humanitarian intervention produces a more dramatic effect on lives than access to safe water and sanitation.”
In West Africa, the most common cause of death and disease is contaminated water. One in seven children dies before the age of five. Babies often die from what, to us, would be a simple case of diarrhea.
Q. Why Niger?
A. Quite simply – because the need is great. Niger has consistently been at the bottom of the UN Development Index as the poorest country in the world.
42.9% of Nigeriens live in poverty, earning less than $1.90 a day. 61% in rural Niger have no access to clean water and 96% have no access to adequate sanitation. The life expectancy is 62.4 years.
Q. How many people in Niger need access to safe water, and what is the Nigerien government providing?
A. An estimated 10 million people in Niger still need safe water. The Nigerien government can only allocate 3-7% of its annual budget to providing clean water to the population.
Q. Who bears most of the burden of getting water?
A. Women and girls are responsible for collecting water. In villages without a well, they walk 4-6 miles a day, more in the dry season, in search of water that is often contaminated. As a result, women have little time to work to earn money for their families, and girls do not go to school. .
Q. Who drills the wells?
A. From its inception, Wells Bring Hope has been partnered with World Vision, the largest international relief and development organization in the U.S. They drill and maintain all of our wells.
Niger has a plentiful supply of clean water, ranking 8th among all African nations, but that water is deep underground and therefore inaccessible to villagers. The wells that we drill tap aquifers 200-300 feet underground, so we rely on World Vision’s team of highly experienced local water engineers with their own dedicated drilling equipment.
Q. What is the difference between a well and a tap? Why did you transition to funding only taps?
A. As the name suggests, a hand pump well requires that the water be pumped from deep underground by hand. This requires a significant amount of effort and strength, making it challenging for most women, but especially for the very old, the very young, and the disabled. It is also very time consuming. Between the time spent waiting in line and the time spent pumping the amount of water required to fill her vessel, a woman could easily spend 1-1 ½ hours every day collecting water for her family.
A tap is actually a part of a much larger mechanized system that includes solar panels, the well itself, extensive underground piping, and an above ground water storage tank. In larger villages, there are multiple tap stands, each with two to four individual taps. These taps function much like the faucets in your own home. To collect water, a woman simply walks to the tap stand closest to her home, turns on the tap, and fills her water vessel. The whole process takes a matter of minutes and makes it possible for the elderly and the disabled to get water for themselves. We also hear how much the women value having water systems “like they have in the city.” Having access to this modern convenience not only makes their lives easier, but it makes them feel proud as well.
We made the transition to taps for several reasons, most importantly because the government of Niger is requiring that all new wells, with very few exceptions, be of this mechanized type. Additionally, we recognized the positive impact that a mechanized well would have on women’s lives, and we believe that the people we serve deserve access to what we would consider a basic modern amenity.
Q. What happens after a well is drilled?
A. Drilling a well has immediate as well as long-term effects that impact the village for generations.
« Lives are transformed instantly and dramatically.
Child mortality drops by 70%. Water-borne diseases are virtually eliminated. Education becomes a reality for girls. With 50% of their time freed up, women can work and earn money for their families.
Ensuring the health of a village is an ongoing process; drilling a well is just the first step. People must be educated on sanitation and proper hygiene. We help villagers to install latrines and educate them on why it is important to use them and abandon the traditional practice of open defecation, which contaminates the water supply.
«We continue to work with every village for 15+ years.
World Vision is on the ground in every area where we drill about once a month to monitor the well and ensure that lasting cultural changes are taking place. This is critical to ensuring that a village thrives. Villagers learn drip farming and how to use “gray water,” which enables them to grow vegetables and improve their diets. Women can even grow enough vegetables to sell in the local market.
Q. What do you do to help women?
A: Our partner provides microfinance training to the women in every village where we drill a well. When women no longer have to spend most of their day getting water, they have time to work and earn money. Within 4-6 months of the drilling of the well, women are working productively and earning money, putting an end to the downward spiral of poverty.
We also help women take leadership roles in the village by requiring that half of the well maintenance committee be women. This is highly progressive, given that women have little or no say in village life before a well is drilled.
Q. How do you ensure sustainability?
A. When a well is drilled, we teach villagers how to maintain it, and we empower them to take ownership of it. This is very important for building pride and a sense of responsibility. In addition, every family contributes a small amount of money to a well maintenance fund.
Q. What have you accomplished?
A. Check out Our Progress page to see how many wells we’ve drilled and how many lives we’ve changed.
Q. I want to fund an entire well tap. How much does it cost?
A. $6,300. The actual cost of a well is $12,600, but our partner World Vision matches every donation dollar for dollar, which enables us to fund a well tap with just $6,300.
Q. Who pays for the ongoing support after the well is drilled?
A. We have the best financial model of any NGO drilling wells anywhere in the world. We know that’s a bold statement, but here’s how it works – as noted above, we raise $6,300 for a tap, which is matched by World Vision.
Over the course of the next 15 years, World Vision funds provide for an additional $18,000 – $22,000 worth of services to each village where a well is drilled. The result? Roughly $30,000 worth of life-transforming services delivered to a village, or 5 times the impact of the initial donation!
Q. What percentage of each donation is used for administrative costs?
A. Zero. 100% of every donation goes directly to drilling wells. Since its inception, WBH’s operating expenses have been funded by other sources – corporations and foundations, not donor dollars.
Q. Are donations tax-deductible?
A. Yes. Wells Bring Hope is a 501(c)(3) non-profit California corporation, EIN #27-3123341. Your contribution is fully deductible according to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.
Q. How can I make a donation?
A. You can visit www.wellsbringhope.org/donate, or you can mail a check payable to Wells Bring Hope to 16563 Park Lane Circle, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
Q. Can I make a donation of cryptocurrency?
A. Yes, we accept donations in fungible cryptocurrency. Wells Bring Hope has a KuCoin account and a pro bono professional investment consultant who only advises on cryptocurrency.
After accepting funds, your donation is transferred directly into the Wells Bring Hope account for disbursement of funding water wells. It is not kept in our investment account unless a donor gives us express signed permission to do that.
Q. How can I help besides making a donation?
A. We are an all-volunteer organization, so we welcome gifts of time as well as money!
You can find our current volunteer needs on Volunteer Match. We have opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, and most of our positions are “virtual” and can be done from anywhere.
Wells Bring Hope’s Education Outreach program teaches children of all ages about the water crisis in West Africa, and may schools have started fundraising projects on our behalf. Do you know a school that might help? They can start a Water Circle, their own fundraising project with a unique page on our website.
Might your company consider funding wells? Are you part of a church, synagogue, Rotary Club, or other community group that might support us? Do you have any other contacts who might be able to help us? Gil Garcetti and Barbara Goldberg are available for speaking engagements.
Q. How can I find out more information about “Wells Bring Hope”?
Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Go to our YouTube channel and watch some of the videos that we have filmed in Niger. These videos speak to the heart of our mission as they convey the problems and solutions in a very personal and emotional way. Brochures are available upon request. For more information, contact email@example.com.