Dug well

Brief about Dug well

Dug well despite being a common pool resource in most villages as source of clean drinking water equipped with natural filters to remove impurities has been largely disregarded. This change happened after hand pumps was aggressively marketed as the universal remedy for all local water problems during and after floods. As a result, some of the dug wells have been transformed into waste bins, toilets pits and partly/fully covered with soil or reclaimed for construction of houses over it. The trend continues till date despite proof of hand pumps being a main source of infirmity in rural Bihar.

While initiating the dug well work, the MPA team had to confront tremendous resistance from people as the bait of handpump was preventing them from accepting dug well as an effective alternative. People were unwilling to make well revival a community enterprise as they had got used to a readymade product delivered to them. They were naturally not very open to contributing their services to cleaning the well and in many cases even deliberately under reported the number of wells in their village. The MPA team members persisted. They used the same logic as before, explaining why community solidarity to rejuvenate wells is essential and how such a process could facilitate easy access of safe drinking water throughout the year, and minimize the risk of diseases. They underscored how wells could be turned into a community resource over which community rights and ownership could be re-established. In order to strengthen their argument, they used the water testing results, which at least forced people to rethink their alliance with handpumps. It was this that caused the turnaround.

The internal review carried out by MPA of their dug well work yielded mixed findings. On the whole, the dug well work had created conducive atmosphere, which was instrumental in bringing people together to deliberate and develop a collective strategy to overcome their drinking water problem. Revival of dug wells facilitated intergenerational transfer of indigenous knowledge, which to a large extent was on the brink of extinction. The resurfacing of the knowledge further impacted on the general perception regarding dug wells and also led to repairing of old dug wells as the main source of drinking water. Ever since the need to revive and repair the destroyed dug well has been increasing.

Outcome of the dug well initiative

Mixed impact of the dug well initiative has prompted the campaign to further evolve its package of practice for an enhanced impact

Myth surrounding the appropriateness of dug well started getting intensively debated at the community level resulting in its gradual inclusion

Skepticism regarding the probable shift from a normal practice of accessing drinking water to an alternative source (considered as old fashioned) was removed

Dug well water started to get preference on the basis of certain local indicators for instance, facilitating digestion, odourless and pleasant taste, sparkling clean,

  • Local practices of dug well management was being revived through this initiative and simultaneously new operative systems were introduced to ensure the quality of dug well water
  • The conceptual disagreement within the campaign due to the proposed community led effort for reviving dug wells changed after observing the process and its impact on the rural communities
  • The dug well revival created opportunity for the elderly to participate and contribute towards the initiative
  • Initiation of addressing internal community conflicts collectively
  • Designing of flood resistant dug well
  • Potential of constructing dug well taken through MGNREGA funds

Megh Pyne Abhiyan’s  work on drinking water has facilitated the resurgence of dug well as the best possible solution for clean and safe drinking water in the alluvial flood plains of Bihar. In order to streamline dug well’s revival and acceptance, Megh Pyne Abhiyan has adopted multiple techniques to advocate for revival of dug wells in five districts. For this purpose a briefing paper for politicians, bureaucrats, media, grassroots organization etc has been prepared. The briefing paper on the revival of dug wells can be accessed at

DUG WELLS – A POTENTIAL SAFE SOURCE OF DRINKING WATER FOR ARSENIC AND IRON CONTAMINATED REGION IN NORTH BIHAR