Analytical Services make a difference in Burkina Faso


Severn Trent Services recently made a difference to the livelihood of people living in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Severn Trent Services were working together with Paul Wilson from the British Geological Survey (Northern Ireland Office) who was in Burkina Faso on a charity mission to drill deep water wells in some of the most remote parts of the country.

One in every ten children will die before they reach the age of one and the availability of safe, clean drinking water can literally mean the difference between life and death. In May Paul’s charity, Friends in Action (FIA) were in Burkina Faso to drill 30 deep water wells in an area called Yagma.

Yagma is home to 25,000 people, many of whom are still living in aid tents having been displaced by severe flooding in 2009. Various charities and organisations have tried to help by drilling wells in Yagma but no proper hydrogeological study has been performed to determine if groundwater can sustain the water demand of the settlement.

FIA were recently asked to support and provide more wells at the settlement to help support a micro financing initiative, aimed at supporting the flood victims with starting their own business.

Paul, along with full time volunteers Mark Collier and Matt Durkee, surveyed the existing wells, tested the field physico chemical characteristics of the water and collected water samples for analysis.

Mark Ryan (Environment, Health and Safety Manager) and his team assisted in ensuring we had the appropriate H&S procedures to test water from this region of the world. Fran Bilby (Technical and Runcorn Manager) and the team in Bridgend kindly agreed to test the samples free of charge.

Initial results suggested that the water is quite high in iron content in some of the wells. Paul believes this is most likely due to the drilling equipment. Further analysis of the data provided will be used to better characterise the hydrogeology of Yagma. This will allow FIA to determine where to drill future wells and to help other organisations who will be working to equip the people of Yagma in the future.

A big thank you to staff in Ireland who provided bottles and arranged sample logistics, Claire Jolly who manages the NIEA/BGSNI account and finally to all the staff at Bridgend and the HS&E team who assisted the project.

Sometimes it can be difficult to visualise the importance of the work that we do, however opportunities like this make it easy to see the real difference that we can make to people’s lives. 

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