excavation or structure created in the ground to access groundwater

A well is a hole that is dug into the Earth to get water (or crude oil or natural gas). A qanat is an ancient complex water well system used in the Middle East. Wells can be as simple as a hole that a bucket on a rope can be lowered into, or very complex with pipes and high-powered pumps to get the water out. Most cities that are not close to fresh water lakes or rivers get their water from wells.

A well where a horse or a donkey is used to draw water
A well in Sénégal, with a woman getting water there

It is important to be careful what rubbish is put into the ground near a well. If something toxic is put in the ground, it could end up in the water from the well and make people sick.

Water is a problem for many African countries. Many charities are helping to build wells in local villages to help stop lengthy travel to distant water supply.

A well only works if underneath there is an aquifer which feeds it.