Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Groundwater Development

© EnterpriseWorks/Naugle
A team drills for water using the manual percussion method in Niger.

In recent years groundwater has been increasingly utilized for water supplies, especially in low-income countries where it is often relatively easy to access and requires less rigourous treatment than surface water. It is estimated that more than 1.8 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater to meet their daily water needs.

Groundwater is often seen as an ‘invisible’ and therefore inexhaustible. In fact, it is often a fragile resource susceptible to pollution and over-extraction. It is, therefore, essential that groundwater is utilized in a sustainable way. UNICEF has developed a series of Groundwater Programming Principles to ensure sustainable and appropriate use.

A Code of Practice for Cost-Effective Boreholes has also been developed in collaboration with UNICEF’s partners to raise the level of professionalism in rural water supply programmes that include water well drilling. The code of practice is designed to ensure that:

• Policies and practices that bring about cost-effective borehole provision are identified, introduced and supported;
• Country systems and procedures are developed strengthened and used;
• Performance of the drilling sector is routinely monitored and evaluated; and
• Transparent reporting procedures are established and followed.

One approach to reduce drilling costs and increase cost-effectiveness of groundwater development programmes is to promote manual drilling. UNICEF has worked with a range of partners to develop a toolkit for African countries wishing to embark on the professionalization of manual drilling. This toolkit includes Technical Notes, Technical Manuals, Advocacy Materials, Mapping of suitable areas for manual drilling, Case Studies, and Implementation and Training Manuals. This initiative builds the capacity of the local private sector in order to respond to the ever increasing demand for safe water in rural areas.

Naturally occurring chemicals found in groundwater, such as arsenic and fluoride, can have significant public health impacts. UNICEF programmes support groundwater quality monitoring programmes and appropriate mitigation strategies to reduce the risks in affected countries (see the Water Quality page).



Maps of areas appropriate for manual drilling in Africa

Maps for 12 African countries are available 

Videos for Manual Drilling Promotion

Advocacy for Manual Drilling in Africa highlights: video (2:07), [Fr 2:07].

Professionalization of Maanual Drilling in Africa: part 1 (7:44), part 2 (5:13), [Fr 7:52], [Fr 5:03].

How to professionalize manual drilling in Africa: part 1 (6:37), part 2 (8:39), [Fr 7:16], [Fr 8:11].

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