When health club members  realise  how germs can be transported in water they usually make efforts to protect their own water supply and take many steps to help themselves. Some even manage to supply themselves with safe underground water through digging and protecting wells for their own family. This  ‘self supply’ of water, often without any outside organisation from agencies subsidy  or donors, is an indication of community commitment to managing their own resources. The protected family well programme in Zimbabwe has spread all over the country after it was introduced into a few districts by Zimbabwe AHEAD in 1995-1997. There are now an estimated 300,000 protected family wells in Zimbabwe. In recent years it is clear that families have been upgrading their own wells and installing their own windlasses, handpumps or diesel pumps.

Upgrading Family Wells

The most effective means of Self Supply of safe water is to support households to upgrade their own well. Most family wells are traditionally open and get contaminated. We advocate and assist families to achieve the following

  1.  Construction of family well if ground water is shallow
  2. Deepen the hole if it runs dry seasonally
  3. Line the hole with interlocking bricks
  4. Cement slab to protect the opening
  5.  Windlass and bucket on a chain
  6. Cover to keep the opening sealed

Click here for an example of Self Supply

Rehabilitating Boreholes

Before the expense of drilling new boreholes all existing boreholes should be rehabilitated. Africa AHEAD trains Water and Sanitation Committees in each village (including women) to maintain the boreholes so that the water supply is available all year round with minimal downtime. Communities

  1. Women  ensure they collect their  drinking water  from a  protected / safe water source
  2. Establish a Water Point Committee within each Community Health Club to maintain a protected source
  3. Roster of handpump attendants who volunteer  to keep the water source site clean and protected from livestock

Click here for an example of rehabilitation of boreholes

School Handpumps

We support communal water supplies particularly in Schools and Health Centers and train the community to take responsibility for the maintenance and protection of the surrounding area with fencing and ensuring proper runoff.  This prevents the contamination of the water by livestock and back seepage of grey water into the borehole. Communal or school nutrition gardens are encouraged to ensure productive water points.

Zero Open Defecation (ZOD)

Stage 1: Cat Sanitation:

Just as cats dig a hole, defecate and cover their produce so should all human beings! This in itself is enough the break the feacal- oral route of germs carried on the  feet of flies from faeces to our food. By cat sanitation we are on the first stage of sanitation consciousness


There is no reason why people cannot build their own latrines as part of the basics of their home. Subsidies for building latrines need to be avoided as they undermine ownership and the latrines are not replaced when/if the fill or collapse. However there is a case for subsiding those who are unable to build for themselves. These should be carefully selected through democratic process within the CHC and other members encouraged to assist in the building.

Case Study: Mberengwa/Gutu, Zimbabwe   View presentation

Covered Latrine

Stage 2: Temporary Latrine

A simple pit latrine can be constructed to enable immediate safe disposal of feaces but it most be covered otherwise flies will access germs down the pit and therefore this does nothing to break the feacal -oral transmission of germs. We encourage all members to upgrade their own latrines by putting a well fitting cover over the hole.

The responsibility of the CHC Committee is to ensure that all members have a minimum standard for temporary latrines. Some CHC made a business out of making latrine hole covers and selling to each other.

Case Study: Chimanimani, Zimbabwe   View powerpoint presentation

VIP Latrines

Stage 3:  Permanent Latrine

Once there are resources to build a permanant latrine we assist the technical design to ensure that the latrine is well sited  and well built, so it will not contaminate water sources or collapse. We are not fixated on any particular design but the Ventilated Improved Latrine, which also acts as a fly trap is the most common model of sanitation in the rural areas of Africa.

Ecosan design, (where the faeces are dried and reused), or urine separation, are also used but usually in schools or health centers where they can be properly  managed.

We make sure that all latrines have a readily accessible water container so hand washing is done after defecation (See Hygiene page)

Case Study: IDP Caps, Uganda:  2 page summary