Potable Water Supply, Dorgobom, Ghana

The EWB Portland Maine Chapter has teamed with the Community Directed Development Foundation (CDDF) to support a potable water project for the village of Dorgobom, Ghana.


Dorgobom is a very poor community in the Ada region of Ghana.  They are farmers with no safe water supply.  Approximately 30% of the village has been diagnosed with malaria, and schistosomiasis, whipworm, and hookworm are also too prevalent.  Although malaria is transmitted via mosquitoes, schistosomiasis is an infection caused by parasitic flatworms known as schistosomes and is contracted from contact with contaminated water.  Hookworm and whipworm parasites live in soils, but clean water is needed for sanitation and further prevention.

The women of Dorgobom carry water from the local pond for their families needs.  Each woman makes three to four trips per day to provide enough water to supply a family of five.  The water is extremely turbid and must be filtered prior to consumption.  If they have the means, they also may purchase alum to kill biological contamination; however, only about 10% of the village has the means to purify their water so that it is safe.

The groundwater in the region is encountered within a gneiss formation (coincidentally, this is the same rock formation that is used for most Portland curbs), and the water within the bedrock is saline.  Therefore, a groundwater supply well will not solve the problem.

What’s Next?

EWB-USA’s core mission / vision focus is on meaningful, long-term relationships with communities and an insistence on excellence in engineering solutions for those communities. In the absence of much needed, long-awaited feedback and data from the community, we’re unable to determine any meaningful next steps for the project.

April 2013

In ApShanta - April 2013 Ghana Tripril 2013, the EWB Portland team performed health surveys for the community and tested some moringa seed water treatment options. The moringa tree is locally grown and the seeds have multiple uses, including those that have health benefits. Among them is that the seeds can be used to flocculate out the clay particles in the surface pond water.



March 2012

In March 2012, our team successfully completed another trip to work with our friends in Dorgobom. We had three tasks to complete in 12 days:

  • Completeion of the Rain Water Harvest System
  • Library Book Donation
  • Roughing Filter Pilot Test

Rain Water Harvest System

After learning that our pilot test was successful and that the community not only was using our small-scale rain water harvest system, but kept it in good repair and worked out a system for effective use. Our team (along with a LOT of help from the community and students) expanded the system around the school, adding five more tanks so that the system now collects enough water from 0.2 inches of rain to provide water for the entire community for one day! We also provided a long-term maintenance program for ensuring that stagnant water is cleaned and that the tanks and gutters remain in good repair.

Library Book Donation

Thank to generous donations from friends, family, and the Rotary Club of Mexico, Maine, we were able to bring over 150 pound of books to the community school. The books were a welcome donation and were immediately cataloged and constitute the start of the School Library. Additional book donations are always welcome!

Roughing Filter Pilot Test

Using the results of other roughing filters completed in Ghana, our team designed two pilot tests that were run for over a month to determine if the native rock media could provide a sufficient filter system to render the pond water safe to drink. Although we saw some improvements, after the test was completed, it was determined that sand filtering was not effective as the particles in the water were too fine. Although the results were disappointing, we now have more data on the challenges of treating very fine, clay-size particles in water. We also learned that a local plant may be the ‘silver bullet’ we need!

Moringa oleifera

The moringa tree grows everywhere in the community and their leaves and seeds are used for medicinal uses. Thanks to some research on our part, we determined that the seeds also work as a flocculent, providing positively charged particles that bind to the clay particles in the water – forming heavy colloids that can then sink within the vessel – providing clean, safe water.

CDDF mentions this project in two articles.
Engineers Without Borders Visit Dorgobom
CDDF President Pays a Working Visit to Dorgobom

March 2011

Five members of our chapter returned from a Dorgobom assessment trip in March 2011.  The mission was a huge success.  We were able to install our first rainwater harvesting system pilot test.  The pilot was a small-scale system that used the school roof to collect rainwater.  Based on the design, with 3/10 of an inch of rain, we will be able to provide the community 3000L (approx. 800 gallons) of fresh water.  The community has already taken responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the system and is eager for the next expansion. We received word on April 7th that it rained for an hour and the tank filled to the top; the water was clean and the whole community had their first share of potable water!!!

In addition to the rainwater harvesting system, we were also able to collect survey information around the pond and the school. This will be critical in designing the water filtration system that will be installed on an upcoming trip to Dogobom. Our team was warmly welcomed by both CDDF and the Dogobom community.  As we continue to work together, we grow closer and better understand why we are all in this together.

Dorgobom PowerPoint Presentation

Roughing Filtration Paper – Abridged

Roughing Filtration Paper – Full Length

To get involved with this project, contact Nadia Glucksberg.