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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Two Million Wells

One of the greatest tactical advantages we could accomplish in the world is to provide solar cookers to people living in Africa, South America, and parts of Southern Asia and the Middle East.

A solar cooker costs about $3 and can help impoverished people cook food and sterilize water without using a cooking fire. They can reflect the sun's rays from their position near the equator to cook instead of spending hours gathering wood, stripping land, and releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

In the Darfur region, women who must go out to forage for fuelwood are at sharply increased risk of assault. Giving them solar cookers would allow them to remain with their family and make different use of their time.

3 billion people live on less than $3 a day. 1 billion live on less than $1 a day. Solar cookers will reduce the level of subsistance living and make subsistance foraging and poverty take less time so they can focus more on family, education, advancing society and economic activity.

Giving out1 billion solar cookers to 4 billion people would cost perhaps 2 billion dollars. By replacing current foreign aid programs or taking ~1/2% of our military budget we can improve the lives and security of billions of people. That is more effective than *any* military operation conceivable.

The next best thing we can do is to contract in the 3rd world to dig wells within 7.5km [~5 miles] of every community. Africa is just under 30 million km2, and much of it is uninhabited desert or areas already having fresh water. If we put wells every 15km on 30 mkm2 of earth's populated regions, we could provide fresh water to billions of people who currently go without, or rely on unstable or dirty water sources, spreading disease and requiring medical attention.

An area of this size would be supplied by 2 million wells, and could cover all of Africa's populated areas, along with every needful place in South America and South Asia. We could send teams to work and to contract with local laborers, aiding local economies and reducing the price of the projects. If digging each well cost $1000 dollars, this program would also cost $2 billion. The real price of digging a 20-30 meter deep well likely falls in the $350-700 range when using local labor, tripod or Kelly-bar drilling methods, and reinforced aluminum piping.

With $4 billion dollars we could provide clean drinking water to the world and give them the means to cook food and sanitize water without foraging for or burning wood.

Call or email your senator and representative and ask them to do this project.


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