After we developed a proprietary drilling system to dig 150 feet, World Vision approached us and proposed a pilot project of 7,000 wells. That sounded great, but they asked us to fund it! A project of that size would require 1.2 million feet of pipe at the cost of $20 million. At the time, we had a staff 6, two of which were volunteers and our annual budget was $300,000.
How were we supposed to fund a project that big?
Fortunately, World Vision agreed to match the funds that we would raise. So we went with it!
Believe it or not, it’s easy to spend $20 million in Africa, and make no lasting impact. So our ultimate goal was to get this process running on its own, so it could sustain itself without outside assistance.
We built a facility in Ghana and shipped the manufacturing equipment from Oklahoma to that facility where we would manufacture the manual drill rigs and pumps to become a supply store for franchise drillers.
The other half of that facility is a vocational school where we teach drilling. We train prospective drillers how to drill, they learn about hydro geology, fiscal responsibility and management skills. When they graduate from our training program, we offer them a franchise.
These franchise owners then have the opportunity to earn a contract for one of the 7,000 wells we need to drill. Once they get a contact for a specified number of wells, they have to purchase their equipment. Most drillers don’t have any funds to purchase equipment, so they get financing of $800 from World Vision to buy the sand, cement, pump, pipe and a drill rig. Then they go out to the village and drill the well. Once completed, we verify the quality and pay them.
Often times, local farmers will see the wells we’re drilling and want one for their own farm. At $1,000 per well, these farmers can pay for a well within two growing seasons. That’s how this thing gets spinning on its own.
Last year we drilled 1,000 wells. Since 2008, we’ve gotten water to about a million people and we really haven’t even started yet. We just completed construction on our second facility, this one is in Ethiopia. Each facility can drill about 2,400 wells per year. Our goal is to build 40 of these facilities across Africa. That’s 96,000 wells per year when we’re at full strength. In ten years we’ll drill about a million wells and that will pretty much take care of Africa’s water crisis.
We’ve put the solution in the hands of the people of Africa. We’ve given them an opportunity to start their own businesses, nurture them along, and give them the opportunity to fix their own problem. We believe Oklahomans are going to be the solution to the world’s water crisis.
Please visit the Water4 website to learn more about our non-profit and how you can support our mission.