Building Wells in Africa

GFA World Is Building Wells in Africa

Africa is facing severe water scarcity, so building wells in Africa is becoming increasingly important. Water scarcity is an alarming reality where the demand for water surpasses available supply, driving water sources to unsustainable limits.[1] This pressing issue is particularly pronounced in Africa, where one out of every three individuals grapples with water scarcity, a number that continues to surge.[2]

The central driver behind this crisis is overexploitation, a fact emphasized in a 2018 report revealing that over 60 percent of South Africa’s rivers are currently overexploited.[3] Lake Chad, once a flourishing freshwater body in Africa, has seen a drastic 90 percent reduction in its size since the 1960s due to unchecked overuse. This widespread overexploitation phenomenon is primarily fueled by two key factors: rapid population growth and escalating urbanization. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is expanding at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, more than double the rates observed in Latin America and South Asia.[4]

A striking occurrence in 2018 saw 21 out of the world’s 30 fastest-growing cities situated in Africa. This trend is epitomized by places such as Bamako, Mali, and Cameroon, which have witnessed exponential growth. However, this population surge results in amplified demands, including heightened food requirements, accelerated urbanization, and an upsurge in industrial activities. All of these pursuits necessitate a reliable water supply, a resource that remains scarce. Paradoxically, the quest for sustenance and development clashes with the scarcity of water, exacerbating the cycle of overexploitation.

Amidst escalating water scarcity, 319 million sub-Saharan Africans grapple with securing water for their families.[5] Their daily routine centers on a crucial walk to fetch water for essential needs like cooking, cleaning, and bathing. This daily walk usually falls to women and children—especially girls. They walk an average of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) a day to retrieve water, which consumes many hours, and some must walk much farther than that.[6] When the weather is dry, it’s harder for kids to get to school or for women to work since they must wait longer at the water hole or walk further distances to find water. Often, the water they do find is contaminated, leading to many illnesses, causing more missed school and work and pulling families deeper into the cycle of poverty.[7]

GFA World is among the organizations working to bring clean water to this dry continent. Over our years of ministry, we have drilled many Jesus wells all over Asia, and now we are bringing that experience to building wells in Africa. In fact, GFA has already installed the first two Jesus wells in Rwanda, and more clean water installations are planned to help alleviate the water crisis.[8] By working with local contractors and funding multiple wells at once, the cost to build a well in Africa remains comparatively low. But just because they are inexpensive doesn’t mean they are poor quality. In general, Jesus Wells are built to last and are dug up to 200 meters (600 feet) deep to ensure access to clean water all year, even in the driest of dry seasons. By working with the local church congregation and using standard specifications, we make sure they are easy to repair. A well is made with a heavy-duty and durable handpump, which is intended to operate 20 million cycles before requiring repairs. That translates to about 20 years of operating for 8 hours a day.[9]

Along with other aspects of charity, building wells in Africa helps to break the cycle of poverty. Having a source of clean water within their own village means that women and children are no longer spending hours a day walking to fetch water, giving them more time for other things like attending school—education is one of the most effective ways to end poverty—or working for more income. Since Jesus Wells allow families to stop drinking contaminated water, waterborne illnesses are much less likely, which prevents pricey medical bills or time away from work. An easily accessible Jesus Well also makes watering a village’s crops much easier, which then increases yield, leading to better nutrition for the people in the community and higher sales at the market. All of this helps to pave a path out of poverty. Clean water is a major key to a brighter, more hopeful future.[10]

Jesus Wells provide the opportunity to minister to entire villages. Water is offered to all, regardless of social class or religious background. The gesture is such a clear display of God’s love, it moves many people’s hearts to follow Him.[11] Thus, when believers donate a well in Africa, they not only provide clean water for villages, but they also introduce villagers to the Living Water. This result is exactly why GFA follows the ministry model that we do. Meeting people’s physical needs is a tangible representation of God’s care for them, opening the door for sharing the hope that is in Christ.

Building wells in Africa will not continue without donations from believers worldwide. Consider joining GFA in this effort to bring clean water to entire villages, changing their lives and showing them God’s love.

Learn more about the Africa water crisis

[1] “Water Scarcity.” UN-Water. United Nations. 2021.
[2] “Water.” WHO | Regional Office for Africa. 2015.
[3] Donnenfeld, Zachary, Courtney Crookes, and Steve Hedden. 2018. “A Delicate Balance: Water Scarcity in South Africa.” Institute for Security Studies. Accessed August 2023.
[4] Lai, Charlie. “Water Scarcity in Africa: Causes, Effects, and Solutions.” July 8, 2022.
[5] Reid, Kathryn. “Water within Reach: Compare Two 5-Year-Olds’ Walk for Water.” World Vision. April 11, 2017.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “GFA World Expands Ministry to Africa.” GFA World. Accessed July 21, 2023.
[9] “Clean Water: Clean Water through Jesus Wells.” GFA World. Accessed July 21, 2023.
[10] Reid, Kathryn. “Water within Reach: Compare Two 5-Year-Olds’ Walk for Water.” World Vision. April 11, 2017.
[11] “Clean Water: Clean Water through Jesus Wells.” GFA World. Accessed July 21, 2023.