Guest Blog from Mr Gift Jason Wanangwa, a Groundwater Development Officer with the Malawi Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
Guest Blog by GIFT JASON WANANGWA
Malawi is one of the least developed countries in Africa. It has a population of more than 17 million people, 84% of whom live in rural areas and rely solely on groundwater for their daily water needs for social and economic development.
Studies of the drilling practices in Malawi by UNICEF (GoM/UNICEF 2011; GoM 2012) and borehole forensics activities done by students of the University of Strathclyde under the Climate Justice Fund-Water Futures Programme (CJF-WFP Work Records 2017-2018) as well as MSc Hydrogeology masters research students activities into drilling practices in Malawi (Polmanteer, 2014) have all revealed some shortcomings which explained problems in rural water supply through boreholes like poor siting, low yield of boreholes, weak drilling procedures and poor water quality or mechanical failures of pumps and boreholes. This was attributed much to poor drilling supervision.
About 1 billion people in rural areas rely on boreholes (mostly fitted with handpumps) for their water supply. Another 300 million in small towns and cities get their domestic water from boreholes.
What is a borehole?
Someone  once defined a tree as “a big plant with a stick up the middle”. Using this analogy, a borehole is “a long thin hole in the ground which produces water”. But of course just as trees are a bit more complicated than the definition would suggest, and just as trees come in all shapes and sizes, so too boreholes are more than ‘long thin holes …’. No two boreholes are quite the same.
If I wish to plant a tree and get fruit or timber from it sometime in the future, then I need to choose the right species, plant it in the right place, and nurture it until it becomes established. So too if I want to construct a borehole which will deliver clean water over both the short-term and the long-term, I need to choose its location with care, design it properly and ensure that it is drilled and finished straight and true.