Professional Water Wells Drilling: Country Assessments of the Sector – UPDATED!

From 2003 to date, assessments of borehole drilling sector cost-effectiveness and professionalism have been undertaken for the following countries:

Do you know of other national assessments of borehole drilling sector cost-effectiveness and professionalism, perhaps in your own country? If so, please share in the comments below.

Update 21 August 2018

Key points:

  • “Turn-key” contracts should not be used, instead implementing agencies should procure an independent consultant for drilling and supervision and pay drillers for drilling/installation work done.
  • The research supports the guidance set out Danert K., Gesti Canuto J. (2016) Professional Water Well Drilling. A UNICEF Guidance Note  , Unicef , Skat Foundation http://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/resources/details/775

Achieving Professional and Sustainable Drilling in Madagascar? Yes, we can!

Guest blog by Charles Serele, UNICEF Madagascar

As part of its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in Madagascar, UNICEF is committed to supporting the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (MWSH) to build the capacity of the drilling sector. With this in mind, UNICEF organized a training on “Drilling Techniques and Supervision” in collaboration with the MWSH. The training targeted various stakeholders in the water sector, including government departments, drilling companies and consultancy firms who manage water supply projects, supervise or drill boreholes.

The training was held in Antananarivo (Madagascar) and organized in three different sessions of three days each, from February 7th to 23th, 2018. Fifty-four participants, including fifteen women attended the training course. The training was facilitated by Charles Serele, an experienced WASH Specialist from UNICEF Madagascar.

madagascar

To enhance individual knowledge and ensure sharing of experiences among participants, the overall approach used to deliver the course involved a mixture of lectures, interactive discussions, group exercises and presentation of drilling videos. Extensive reading materials from RWSN and UNICEF were shared along with exercises to be carried out by the participants.

The course participants actively engaged in the discussions and group activities. The training provided an opportunity to learn from each other and to reflect on what can be improved.

Course Modules

1.      Professionalization of the drilling sector

2.      Methods of borehole siting

3.      Construction of boreholes

4.      Supervision of boreholes

5.      Management of drilling data

The course review showed that participants’ technical knowledge in borehole drilling and supervision greatly improved. Participants also expressed their satisfaction with the course content and the relevance of the topics that were covered.

Forty-five participants (83%), including fourteen women passed the evaluation test conducted on the last day of the training. During the official closing ceremony each successful participant received a poster on cost-effective boreholes, in addition to a certificate.

As a next step, a field-based training should be organized to better illustrate best practices in drilling professional and sustainable boreholes.

Feedback2

madagascar2

Additional resources

 

The training course was facilitated by Charles Serele, UNICEF Madagascar and organized under the supervision of the Chief of WASH, Silvia Gaya and with the support of the UNICEF WASH team. For additional information, contact UNICEF Madagascar on antananarivo@unicef.org.

 

Voyage of groundwater discovery

The first ‘Professional Management of Water Well Drilling Projects and Programmes’ online course, provided by Unicef, Skat Foundation and Cap-Net kicked off in early March 2018.

Running over six weeks, the new online course provides participants with an overview of what is required to improve borehole drilling professionalism in the countries in which they work.

Requiring about six hours of investment per week, plus an additional four for the final assignment, it provides a 40-hour training opportunity for people from all over the world – and they can take part without leaving their home or workplace.

The application process was open for a month, and we received 648 applications spanning 381 organisations and 96 countries. We were astounded by the level of interest. Unfortunately, we could only accept 85 participants, a mere 13% of those who applied, our limitation being funding for sufficient, good facilitation. And so over the past weeks we have been interacting with the participants who work in 35 organisations in 43 countries, of whom 33% are women.

We provide extensive reading material and videos for each module, and the participants engage with the topics through their weekly assignments, participation in online discussion forums and a weekly quiz. For example, they have been tasked with looking at the drilling supervision practices in their own organisations, to prepare a hydrogeological desk study and to reflect on regulatory policies and practices in the countries in which they work.

I was sceptical about online courses until I undertook my first one three years ago. This time, as a facilitator, I’ve witnessed that this course provides an opportunity for people who are already managing drilling projects and programmes to improve their skills and knowledge from far and wide.

So what are we learning every day from the participants? For example, that drilling data is not shared because of fear that the information may be used for gaining the upper hand in mining minerals in one country. Or about the rapidly falling groundwater levels in Sanaa, Yemen, threatening the agriculture and domestic water supplies of the future. And we’ve found out about nuances in the way in which corruption affects the regulation of drilling professionalism in different contexts. Through the course, innovative approaches are also being revealed, such as new regulations in a number of countries, efforts to improve procurement procedures in Nigeria, or post-construction monitoring of water supply systems through private management combining mixed farming and water supply systems in northern Madagascar.

 ourse modules Course modules

 

Integral to the course is that it provides an opportunity for participants to learn from each other, reflect on what can be improved and to debate contentious topics – a key one being who should pay for the cost of drilling a dry borehole? The final assignment in the course involves sharing what has been learned more widely and trying to inspire others to improve borehole drilling management practices. Once the course is complete, all of the materials are accessible through the Cap-Net virtual campus (www.cap-net.org).

So what next, you may ask? Firstly, we shall learn from this first course and make improvements. We would then like to run the course again later in the year, repeat it in the future and also make it available in other languages, starting with French. We know that there is demand. With the structure and materials now developed and online, future courses will be less costly than developing and running the first one. But we need to assure the cost of good facilitation. So if anyone would like to sponsor a course, say as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR), either fully or partially, please contact us at foundation@skat.ch.


Kerstin Danert works for Skat Foundation and Skat Consulting in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and leads the Rural Water Supply Network’s (RWSN) theme on Sustainable Groundwater Development. In 2017 she was awarded the Distinguished Associate Award by the International Association of Hydrogeologists.

This article was first published in GeoDrilling International and is reproduced with permission and thanks.

Three common myths about solar-powered water pumping

By Andrew Armstrong (Water Mission), RWSN co-lead for Sustainable Groundwater Development

Solar pumping is the trendiest technology in rural water supply today. Policy-makers and practitioners are eager to better understand its benefits and limitations and the private sector is responding with a variety of product offerings. Much of this interest is motivated by the Sustainable Development Goal to increase water service levels in the most remote areas. A more compelling driver is that rural water users are willing to pay for service that is accessible near or within their homes. There is currently no more promising technology for meeting these expectations in off-grid settings than solar pumping. Despite this high interest and the fact that solar pumping technology has been around for decades, a great deal of misinformation is being propagated.

This post aims to address a few of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1: Solar pumping is too complicated and not appropriate for remote, rural settings

The most common barrier to adoption of solar pumping is misunderstanding of its complexity and applicability. The technology is often avoided because of perceived technical and management challenges, which are in fact common to any rural water supply system. In reality, the design and installation processes associated with solar pumping are no more complicated than other motorized pumping schemes. Operation and maintenance is more straightforward than with handpumps and generator powered schemes which, as indicated in recent evaluations published by UNICEF and the Global Solar and Water Initiative, likely leads to higher functionality and reliability rates.

Solar pumps are applicable across the same head and flow profiles as grid- and generator-powered pumps, and most solar pumping equipment available today is essentially “plug and play”. External power backup for periods of low sunlight are rarely necessary if water demand is estimated and storage is sized appropriately. In addition, current off-the-shelf computer software tools simplify equipment selection and automatically consider daily and seasonal weather and solar irradiation fluctuations when estimating water outputs.

The high capital cost of solar pumping equipment often brings its large-scale applicability into question. However, the life-cycle cost benefits of solar pumping are well documented and are within and on the lower end  of IRC’s WASHCost benchmark ranges for piped schemes and boreholes fitted with handpumps. There is no fuel cost associated with solar pumps, and the cost of maintaining power generation equipment is greatly reduced because solar modules have no moving parts and long functional lifespans. Furthermore, the cost of solar modules, which represent the most expensive element of a solar pumping scheme, continues to decrease at a rapid rate.

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Click here to read about the advantages of solar pumps compared to alternative technologies commonly utilized in remote, rural settings.

Myth #2: All solar powered water pumping equipment is created equal

Equipment manufacturers have taken advantage of demand and have flooded the market with solar pumping products of all varieties and price tags. Unfortunately, many are of poor quality and likely to fail in a fraction of the lifespan of higher priced, higher quality equipment. Low-quality products seldom come with warranties covering the first few years of operation during which failures are most likely to occur. Uninformed customers often fall into the trap of choosing cheaper equipment without considering that low-quality equipment fails quicker and costs more to maintain in the long-term. This results in solar pumping schemes which were expected to function for years failing and being abandoned after a few months in operation. The best way to guard against this is to stick with brands that have a proven track record for durability and reliability, even if it costs more up-front. It is also important to verify that products adhere to internationally-recognized certification and testing standards.

Another related challenge is that imitation spare parts for major brands are easier to find than authentic ones. Logos and barcodes can be forged such that it becomes difficult to detect if a part is counterfeit. This issue can be resolved by sourcing products from trusted dealers with good technical support capacity. The private sector can also have a positive influence on product quality. By providing local dealers with exclusive access to advanced training and support networks, major manufacturers can incentivize sales of quality equipment. In fact, some solar pumping suppliers such as Bluezone Malawi  are choosing to base their business model solely on high-quality products.

Myth #3: Scaling-up solar powered water pumping will lead to widescale depletion of groundwater aquifers

There is concern that solar pumps, because they can operate automatically whenever the sun shines, could pose a long-term threat to groundwater resources. It is true that exploitation of groundwater paired with low or misunderstood aquifer recharge can lead to potentially irreversible depletion, and there is a deficiency of good hydrogeological data in countries where the most interest is being placed on solar pumping. However, abstraction technology is just one of many factors that influence aquifer sustainability and solar pumping should not be devalued because of potential risks which can be mitigated. It is also important to note that the risk of groundwater depletion due to over abstraction with solar pumps depends on the application. Domestic supply withdrawals, in comparison to agriculture and protracted emergency applications, are likely to have negligible impacts.

Below are some actions that can be taken to mitigate the risk of groundwater depletion:

  • Proper borehole development and pump sizing to safe yield – Ensures solar pumps are physically incapable of depleting aquifers. A good resource for this is the RWSN/UNICEF Guidance Note on Professional Water Well Drilling. Simple control measures such as float valves and switches can also be employed to prevent wasting.
  • Better groundwater monitoring alerts authorities to potential risk areas. Many countries successfully employ remote monitoring systems (see, for example, the USGS’s National Groundwater Monitoring Network. Read more here.
  • Water pricing in the form of tariff collections and abstraction charges enables sustainable and equitable allocation of groundwater resources, but requires sound management built on transparency and accountability. Prepaid water metering technologies may also play a role.

Further resources

Resources are available to equip rural water professionals with knowledge and skills and stop the spread of misinformation about solar pumping. Of note:

In order to generate rich discussion and continue raising awareness of existing resources around solar pumping, the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development theme will host a three-week e-discussion from 28 May to 15 June 2018. For more information or to participate in the e-discussion, join the RWSN Sustainable Groundwater Development DGroup.

(Photo credits: Water Mission)

 

 

A borehole that lasts for a lifetime

Groundwater is a valuable resource for communities, but accessing and maximising its potential can be difficult. Vincent Casey, WaterAid’s Technical Support Manager for Water Security, introduces a series of videos demonstrating good practice in borehole drilling.

Groundwater is a valuable resource for communities, but accessing and maximising its potential can be difficult. Vincent Casey, WaterAid’s Technical Support Manager for Water Security, introduces a series of videos demonstrating good practice in borehole drilling.

Good practice must be followed if groundwater development programmes are to reach their full potential. If certain steps are not taken, there is a high chance that boreholes will fail, investment will be wasted and people will remain un-served.

Continue reading “A borehole that lasts for a lifetime”

What is the big deal about manual drilling anyway?

Let me tell you a not-very-well-kept secret. My PhD research some 15 years ago was on manual drilling. That was what took me to Uganda in the first place and taught me how to link social science, business development and technology. For those of you who don’t know what it is, manual drilling refers to several drilling methods that rely on human energy to construct a borehole and complete a water supply. These methods can be used in areas where formations are quite soft and groundwater is relatively shallow. And by the way, the “Pounder rig” as we called it worked, but it never took off in Uganda (the details are in my thesis).
Continue reading “What is the big deal about manual drilling anyway?”

WÉBINAIRES – DÉBUT 2015: INSCRIVEZ-VOUS! WEBINARS – EARLY 2015: REGISTER NOW

Registration/inscription

À la demande générale, nous avons programmé une nouvelle série passionnante de wébinaires en ce début 2015. Ils auront lieu tous les mardi du 27 janvier au 31 mars inclus.

Back by popular demand, we have an exciting new series of webinars for early 2015, every Tuesday from 27 January to 31 March.

Plusieurs wébinaires sur la collecte des eaux de pluie sont également en cours de programmation par le RWSN et le Canal de l’Eau (TheWaterChannel) – nous vous tiendrons régulièrement informé(e)s à ce sujet.

There will also be more webinars on rainwater harvesting from RWSN and TheWaterChannel – look out for further announcements.

Continue reading “WÉBINAIRES – DÉBUT 2015: INSCRIVEZ-VOUS! WEBINARS – EARLY 2015: REGISTER NOW”

a new phase of RWSN is on the way…..

2015 Theme Icons

RWSN is not a formal organisation, more of a shared idea. In 1992, the network was founded as the Handpump Technology Network (HTN) with a narrow focus on…. handpump technology. 22 years on, and this small group of engineers from the Water & Sanitation Program of the World Bank, UNICEF, Skat and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has become a much bigger family.

As of this morning we have 6,301 individual members, 23 RWSN Member Organisations (the newest are Yobe State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Nigeria and the German-based NGO, Welthungerhilfe) and we have an active team of thematic leaders from Skat, WaterAid and IRC as well as a tremendously supportive Executive Committee.

So where now?

Continue reading “a new phase of RWSN is on the way…..”

Addressing failure in rural water supply in Africa – how we can all do better (Video)

In his key note speech, Professor Richard Carter urged the delegation at the 41st IAH Congress to do more to explain why groundwater matters and why hydrogeological science is important.

Continue reading “Addressing failure in rural water supply in Africa – how we can all do better (Video)”

Water Supply in Lagos and Nigeria – the importance of manual drilling

Nigeria has become increasingly dependent on groundwater over the last 20 years. Groundwater (from hand dug wells, boreholes/tubewells and springs) is the main source of drinking water for over 100 million people in the country. But how many people know about this, and what it means for the practices, policies and politics of Africa’s most populous country?

For our short photo/video documentary, visit: http://vimeo.com/107047730. The full report can be downloaded from http://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/resources/details/618.
Groundwater use in Nigeria has increased year after year: boreholes supplied drinking water to 10% of the population in 1999. By 2011 it was 32%. These boreholes are drilled by machines or manually. Most boreholes that are drilled on the sediments in the south or north east of the country are constructed using manual drilling techniques.
The Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) is known for its work on water supply in rural areas. Thanks to the collaboration with UNICEF, I was able to undertake a short study of manual drilling in Lagos and neighbouring states in June this year. Have you ever visited Lagos? Lagos State is one the world’s most rapidly growing urban agglomerations. Its current population is estimated at 21 million. It is Nigeria’s smallest in terms of size but largest in terms of population. An extremely vibrant and energetic place where urban is interspersed with rural in a very dynamic situation.
Less than 10% of Lagosians access piped water, while the remainder largely fend for themselves. So what do they use? Well, people buy water from vendors, purchase bottled or sachet water, or draw water from their own hand-dug wells or boreholes. One of the less well known factors in Lagos’ success as an economic hub is that it sits on sediments. These are filled with relatively shallow groundwater (at a depth of 10 to 70 meters) which can be tapped affordably.
In recent years, most new groundwater supplies in Lagos are being constructed using manual drilling techniques. We estimate that there are about 200 drilling enterprises operating in Lagos, employing about 1,000 people. For Nigeria as a whole, there are even more.
Here are some quotes from the study:

  •  There is no other fast technology that can give water like manual drilling. It will keep on happening as long as people are building their houses.” Manual Driller, Lagos
  • “[Manual Drilling] is the order of the day. Before you start building a house you must have money to put a borehole there” General Manager, Rural Water and Sanitation State Agency (RUWASSA),
    Oyo State
  • “There is no need to go out [of Nigeria]. There is money to be made in this country…I would be proud for my son to enter this [manual drilling] business, Manual Driller, Oyo State

The manual drilling industry is attracting new recruits with its relatively low entry barrier (about US$2,000 for a set of drilling tools). Manual drilling is thus providing much-needed employment, most of which is within the informal economy. The manually drilled boreholes themselves are affordable, usually at a cost of less than US$2,500 per well. And they can be constructed in small spaces, and in parts of the city where conventional drilling equipment could never reach.
Manual drilling fills a need, but is not regulated. Variable construction quality poses health risks for the population, who, along with political leaders are largely in the dark about key construction standards. There are also longer terms risks of groundwater contamination. With no records of the number of wells drilled and abstraction rates, coupled with a lack of groundwater monitoring, there is no guarantee that groundwater levels will not start to fall in the future.
As the market for manual drilled boreholes and industry expands in many parts of Nigeria, those who can afford it, and are living on suitable formations will benefit from having a water source at their own home. Others will be less fortunate. In order to harness the benefits of manual drilling, we recommend the following:

  1. Recognise that manual drilling provides affordable water close to the home – but not for everyone
  2. Educate citizens and political leaders about groundwater
  3. Recognise and support the initiatives of the manual drillers to organise themselves
  4. Train manual drillers and supervisors to become professionals
  5. Popularise and strengthen regulations at state-level and issue permits for manual drillers and licences for manually drilled boreholes
  6. Find ways to ensure adherence of borehole construction standards – including supervision
  7. Test water quality
  8. Assess and monitor water resources

For our short photo/video documentary, visit: http://vimeo.com/107047730.

The full report can be downloaded from http://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/resources/details/618.