Drama at the Dam

October 23, 2013 • Nigeria
Egbe Hospital Nigeria
Building the dam at Egbe Hospital has taken the hands of many volunteers.

The dam at Egbe Hospital has been under repair for more than a year. This past summer, the staff watched as it was slowly destroyed by a sinkhole and heavy rain. Through prayer and quick thinking, they were able to salvage part of their hard work.

Abby Anderson and her husband, Mark, moved to Nigeria in 2011 to manage the construction portion of the revitalization of Egbe Hospital, a rural teaching hospital in southwest Nigeria.

The drama at the dam at Egbe Hospital in Nigeria started back in June when William, the construction foreman, left for one of his recovery breaks. Our intern Luke called Mark because there was a “sinkhole” at the dam. Mark rushed out to evaluate, and indeed the earthen dam had a growing sinkhole. The pipe was opened to drain the dam and the water pump was set up, but the sinkhole continued. The hole got larger by the minute.

The pipe running through the dam wall had collapsed, which meant we now had a hole penetrating both the earthen dam and the concrete dam wall in which the water was rushing through along with the clay of the earthen dam. I remember sitting out there with Mark and the interns, Luke and Jeremy, watching the hole grow in silence. We were in shock over what was happening. All that work and effort was just sinking away. Since we arrived, we have been on severe water restrictions. The dam was supposed to help us meet water needs for the hospital and school.

Egbe Hospital Nigeria

As Will watched the dam slowly destroyed by a sinkhole and rain, he got the idea to fill bags with sand and put them around the dam.

Everyone agreed not to tell Will until his break was over so that he wouldn’t immediately rush home to fix it. Then we all agreed that we needed some serious prayer! So we prayed.

When Will finally came home and saw it, he too joined in the grieving process. Why was this happening? We continued to attempt to drain the dam in order to start the repair work; however, torrential rainfalls ensued. Rain was filling the dam to overflowing with runoff coming into the dam in all directions. All taps were open and the water pump was running 24/7 in attempt to drain the water. But the dam couldn’t drain fast enough, and again the sinkhole began to expand.

Thinking quickly, Will started filling cement bags with sand and throwing them down into the sink hole until a sandbag wall was built in front of the original wall. This would keep us from losing more of the earthen dam.

And now we waited … and prayed some more! The rains kept falling. For two weeks straight it rained, but the sand bags held. When the rain finally stopped, it took a week to empty the reservoir completely in order for work to repair the hole and pipe to start.

Egbe Hospital Nigeria

After some hard work, the dam is complete again. Please pray with the team at Egbe that it will continue to hold.

A new and stronger pipe was installed, and the now large hole around the pipe was patched thoroughly and carefully. The filling of the sinkhole was painstakingly slow as they compacted each individual layer of dirt/clay in it. Finally everything was repaired and patched, and the wall was deemed worthy. The reservoir was allowed to slowly fill up again.

Today we are rejoicing. The dam has been completed (again!), and we are covering it in prayers for protection. We are also praying for the pipe to arrive. It is now months past due its arrival in Egbe. The new reservoir and filter beds cannot be used by the hospital until the pipe has been laid to transport the water to the compound.