In 1991 the needs of the people of Banabungi were observed to include drinking water, health, education and community development. One of the first programs undertaken by SAO Buton was the development of a supply of drinking water for the village.
At the time, there was only one source of fresh water located at the southern end of Kadatua Island, some 7 kilometers distant from Banabungi. The other sources of fresh water were Topa, a village 8 kilometers to the east on the mainland of Buton, and Lewato Kidi, an island 12 kilometers south of Banabungi. Daily trips were being made to these places, by foot or by canoe, to collect drinking water.
Geoff Parish and Noel Melzer visited Banabungi with Bruce Duncan in 1992 to determine locations for wells and, in 1993 a well digging program commenced.
The location of the well had been marked at the time of the Parish/Melzer visit, and it was decided on discussion with he village people to construct a concrete lined well. Bruce Duncan designed the liner rings so they would be interlocking as a safety precaution against earthquake activity. SAO Buton procured the materials for the well and arranged for the people of Banabungi to commence the work in building the structure. Assistance had been sought from local and state government sources, but they were unable to respond.
Local timber planking was cut to make a large mold into which cement was poured, using a steel rod reinforcement for extra strength. The liner was made directly over the well marker and in some of the photographs you can see a blue stringline which was fixed above the construction site to keep the process accurate.
Once the cement had cured, the mold was removed and excavation of the well began from inside the liner. As the sand was removed, the liner sank into the ground under it's own considerable weight, saving considerable effort in excavating a larger hole than needed then backfilling once the well liners were in place, and also saving the backbreaking effort of trying to move the heavy liners without the aid of cranes or other lifting devices. In the photographs above can be seen the locking lip built into the liners which would prevent them drifting once the construction progressed below ground level.
When the first liner had descended to ground level, the mold was re-erected and the second liner ring made right on top of it, locking straight into the securing ring. With further excavation, the process was repeated until the well had reached bedrock. A Kango hammer was used to break the rock, and the well continued to descend in similar manner.
Unfortunately the ingress of sea water was far too great to overcome with the equipment available to the program. The Kango hammer became unusable due the the extreme wet conditions at the bottom of the well, and eventually it became impossible to seal the well against the bedrock sufficiently to continue the excavation. The well ceased at about half the intended depth and quickly filled with sea water.
The people of Banabungi decided to not let this situation deprive them of fresh water. They emptied the well using a bucket brigade and, once it was dry, blocked the bottom of the well with quick setting cement. It did not take too long before the well was totally sealed off at the base, and the entire structure was rendered with fresh cement to make it clean and watertight. Gutters were built on the roofs of nearby houses and during the monsoon the well, now cistern, filled to overflowing. The cistern was finished off by adding a final liner ring to the top to act as a wall, then a wooden lid made to fit and keep extraneous contamination from entering the vessel.
It is calculated that the the cistern holds over ten tons of fresh water, which is more than enough for the families in this part of the village to draw drinking and cooking water needs for the entire dry season.
The cistern remain in use to this day. It has not run dry except at one time when there was a need to mix a considerable amount of concrete for a new building, and since the rainy season was approaching, it was decided to use all the fresh water in the cistern for that job.
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