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Report from Rao Ma Lu Village

We arrived at Rao Ma Lu village and Yuan worked with the villagers to drill while I went into town with the interpreters to buy supplies for rainwater catchment. Upon returning to the village we began to teach them how to build gutters.

Rao Ma Lu village had very little rain catchment in place. Only one house had a system and it was of bamboo.
Bamboo Gutters
They have two closed cisterns and one open one. The bamboo gutters fill the first one and they draw water and carry it by hand to the second cistern. The third cistern (the open one) had little water in it. I could not determine if they use it. After building the gutters we showed them how to hang them and they finished the job. They will put a hose on the funnel when it rains to catch water in cistern #1.

The greatest part was that immediately when finished with the first house the villagers (including women and children) began building rainwater catchments for the other houses. We purchased enough for almost all of the houses in the village. They were working diligently when we left.

More supplies may have to be purchased while you are there in order to finish all houses. My thinking is that if drilling is successful in finding water they can use it for themselves and the water from the catchment systems for livestock.

If we can find well water we have other options. One of which is to teach them how to clean their cisterns at least once a year. They can get inside while a cistern is dry. Take cloth or clean mops and about two gallons of bleach. Add 2 caps full of bleach to each 2 gallons bulk of water and wash and rinse the top, sides and bottom until clean. Use a second bucket to haul out the dirty water until the cistern is clean. Leave it to set a day and start filling with water.

Cistern #1We bought mesh and screen wire for them to cover the two cistern openings during the day. This will keep out mosquitoes and other insects to prevent disease causing larvae from being in their drinking water. They said they would get wood and put the covers together. The mesh is only as support under the screen like you were sifting sand.

Another option if well drilling isn’t successful is to put a BioSand Filter in each home. In this case I would recommend a hand pump be installed into the opening of the cistern with the top sealed better only allowing a place for the rainwater to be added from catchment. We can teach them how to make the hand pumps there. It is a Water 4 Foundation product.

Another option is to use ozone to kill bacteria. It requires monitoring while the other options do not but it is found to be very effective with those motivated to be diligent about safe drinking water. I can send you information on this if you wish. An organization out of Mississippi does this all over the world. I recommend you drill here first as they have the most need. I cannot say if their current cisterns are enough as I wasn’t able to determine how long the water lasts.


I showed them where I recommended they put the latrine. They said they may not build the new building where they first thought. I suggest Roger and I get together and then the two of you can make an informed decision on where would be best after you know for sure where they will put the new house. If it is okay with you, Renay, we will offer him free Southwest Airlines tickets to fly to Midland and we could work on this together over a long weekend before he goes to China. When he gets there he will find a place where you won’t have to dig much rock and set up there. You can know quickly by using the drilling auger.

If they do not find water I recommend they move to the second village we went to. It is the second most in need. Jiu Dao Ya Kou. I hope I got this correct. In town a few of their kids go to school. The school needs safe drinking water as much as the villagers.

The kids said this was for them to drink. The teacher said it was for washing hands and faces. The HANDA group believed the kids. I know this is another need but the water is horrible. Another larger pit in town is even worse. There are some water tanks brought in but for some reason they are not using them. They may belong to someone else.

The solar lamps

Assembling Solar Lamps
On Saturday morning before I left we had a workshop with the HANDA Association on assembling the solar lamp kits. They all seemed to have this down and I think could teach others well.

In my opinion the latrine situation is the second worse situation. Safe drinking water is the first. As they presently live, these two cannot be dealt with separately. Every latrine is open to the outside. Some are covered and some are not but chickens, dogs, etc can get into all of the droppings and these animals go into the houses. The back side would have to be covered with screen or something so that no bird, fly, etc. can get to the feces. It may be more feasible to install one small latrine per house. That would probably work in all but village #5.

Hygiene training is a big necessity. I found out they like to watch DVDs. If someone could develop a DVD showing proper hygiene it no doubt would be helpful. Caleb is the most informed and the best one to ask on what else we need to do on drilling.