Water Well Progress

Update from Stacey McLaughlin – Aerie Africa Board Member

Happy New Year!  I hope your 2013 is off to a great start.  I am writing to provide the latest update on the Aerie Africa water well project.

Our work over the last two months has been focused on the detailed project planning and identification of the best partner to complete Phase 1 (drilling and casing).  At this time, we are pleased to report that plans are finalized and we are tentatively  scheduled to begin drilling in March.  The teams are motivated and prepared to complete this project as soon as possible.  Our only gating item now is access to steel for the well casing (which is on back-order in Ethiopia due to a recent surge in government demand) but we are hopeful that it will be available by our target start date in March.

We are very fortunate that Nathan Haines,  Aerie Africa Home Manager, continues to serve as our project leader and will work closely with Water is Life International who will play a project management role throughout the project.  Together, we have decided to partner with Myungsung International PCL (MCW) for the drilling and casing.  MCW is a Korean company affiliated with Korean Hospital drillers in Ethiopia.

Here is an overview of the progress to date:

•  Completed risk/benefit analysis and confirmed the optimal location for drilling on our property – biggest decision yet, with serious implications for project due to depths required to reach water on our property.

•  Negotiated agreement with the local community (kebele) for access to drill on a certain site

•  Negotiated agreement with city-level water dept. for permission to drill

•  Concluded that the initially proposed drilling equipment was too risky for our job and met with Water is Life staff, Salem Drilling staff and a consulting hydrogeologist to discuss other drilling options that would still work within our budget.  Decided not to move forward with Salem Drilling because of the risk of not being able to complete the job if they have to drill beyond 150m.

•  Met, via Water is Life staff, a drilling company associated with the Korean Hospital in Addis Ababa.  They have an experienced team with deep wells and are highly motivated to complete this project as soon as possible.  Our contact with MCW has drilled over 30 wells in Ethiopia in the last 3 years, and the Ethiopian driller working with him has been working with drilling companies for about 15 years.

•  Although the MCW drilling equipment is more costly and they are a for profit organization, they decided to take on our project and presented us with a proposed cost bid that is favorable to our project and within our existing budget.  Agreements between Aerie Africa and Water is Life and MCW were executed last week.

•  The roads at the entrance to our property were cleared last week.  Space for the drilling equipment has been made and a temporary guard has been hired to watch the property and equipment.

•  The only open item is the installation of the 3-phase power needed to run the pump for the well.  We are unfortunately at the mercy of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corp and have been told that we are next in line.  This will not interfere with drilling or casing but is required for phase 2 (implementation) of the project.

Overall, we are pleased with the progress, especially given many of the constraints in Ethiopia right now.   If all continues to go well, the Aerie Africa well will be operational by late Spring.

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