In the St Katherine’s area of South Sinai as well as in the village itself, many of the small communities have a problem accessing clean drinking water. Lots of the old drinking wells dried up or were filled in by floods so the only water available is via a government scheme that sells water to the Bedouin. However this water is contaminated by pathogenic bacteria and it contains high levels of mineral salts, both of which make the children ill, so the water is only used for washing and not for drinking. The Bedouin need clean well water and they often have to drive for many miles to collect water from distant wells. When they cannot drive, Bedouin women will walk the long distances with a donkey to neighbour’s wells to collect water. A Bedouin will never deny water to anyone who needs it so wells become over used and there is not enough water to go around.
Wells not only provide drinking water for people, but also for domestic and wild animals. Many Bedouin families keep goats to sell for their meat and the proceeds add substantially to the income of a family. However, they cannot keep goats, or camels, if they do not have good access to water. One community well maybe providing drinking water for about 100 goats as well as 100 people. In addition, it is important to Bedouin to provide water for other animals and so they usually build a small cement lined pool next to the well where rare ibex, lizards and birds can come to drink. This supports the local ecology in this fragile landscape.
The owners of the wells ask for no charge and sometimes as many as 50 women will arrive each day to collect water from a single well. The long term decline in rainfall has caused a drop in the water table so all the wells are going dry. In the summer, when there is greater use of water, levels are lower and there is not enough water for everyone. Many well owners have asked the Makhad Trust for help to deepen and repair their wells. They would also like to make it easier and safer for the women to get their water by pumping water into water tanks that can be accessed by a tap.
The purpose of the project is to repair and deepen many community wells so that there is sufficient drinking water for those who live nearby.
The beneficiaries will be families and communities in St Katherines town, Tarfa, and many areas in the far desert, in a radius of around 50 miles of the town. Each well generally provides water for around 10 to 20 families.
The Makhad Trust assists each well owner with funds to deepen his or her well, to repair the sides, create flood protection and to create easier and safer access for the women via a water storage tank and taps.
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