Groundwater provides about half of the world’s population with domestic. In places where it is readily available, and of good quality, groundwater can be a reliable resource. Groundwater storage is extensive in many places, and acts as a natural buffer against climate variability. However, the quantities that can be abstracted are unevenly distributed, and yields vary.
In many countries, there has been a large-scale switch from using unprotected surface water to protected groundwater. Groundwater scarcity and pollution are major concerns in some parts of the world. Some governments and agencies are attempting to move away from handpump-based supplies to piped schemes fed by motorised (including solar) pumping. Alas, inadequate appreciation of groundwater potential is likely lead to underperformance and failure of these supplies. Greater efforts are required to fully assess and evaluate groundwater potential and associated risks.
In order to ensure that water systems that tap groundwater are built to last, and that service provision is cost-effective, there is a need for vigilance within specific projects. Professionalism is needed for the planning process, community engagement, siting, procurement and contract management, drilling and drilling supervision, timely payment for goods and services and reporting. The basis for professionalism is trained, experienced and equipped personnel, with adequate resources to be able to their job properly.
Of all of RWSN’s themes, Sustainable Groundwater Development has the longest history in the network. It remains highly relevant, particularly in light of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Groundwater Development theme strives to ensure that Groundwater resources are properly considered and sustainably used for developing drinking water supply sources and ensuring their long-term quality and security. The theme comprises three topics: Groundwater Resources Management, Professional Water Well Drilling and Groundwater Abstraction as summarised.
- Professional water well drilling
- Groundwater Resources Management
- Groundwater abstraction (solar pumps & hand pumps)
The RWSN website library also includes publications on Hand dug wells and Manual Drilling.
Most popular publications
- Professional Water Well Drilling. A UNICEF Guidance Note
- Costing and Pricing - A Guide for Water Well Drilling Enterprises
- India Mark Handpump Specifications (Rev 2 – 2007)
- Supervising Water Well Drilling
- Afridev: Handpump Specification (Rev 5 – 2007)
Useful publications and films that you may not know about!
- Code of Practice for Cost-Effective Boreholes (English, French, Portuguese)
- Four short films on borehole drilling professionalism (English and French)
Useful Links and Resources
- All RWSN Publications on Sustainable Groundwater Development (in English, French and Portuguese)
- RWSN Online Community for Sustainable Groundwater Development
- RWSN Blogs on Sustainable Groundwater Development
- RWSN Webinar recordings on Sustainable Groundwater Development
- Africa Groundwater Atlas and Literature Archive
- Groundwater Governance - A Global Framework for Action(GEF/World Bank/UNESCO-IHP/FAO/IAH)
- UNICEF – Groundwater Development
- Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro)
Associations and Other Networks
- Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-NET)
- IGRAC - International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre
- International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)
The Sustainable Groundwater Development theme has the longest history in RWSN, building on:
- 1992 - Handpump Technology Network (HTN) launched
- 2004 to 2012 - Cost-Effective Boreholes Flagship of RWSN
- 2009 to 2018 - UNICEF’s initiative to professionalise manual drilling, and subsequently to professionalis borehole drilling more widely
- 2013 to 2019 - The United Kingdom's Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro)