RWSN Themes

Sustainable Groundwater Development for Rural Water Supplies

Groundwater provides a significant proportion of rural dwellers in the developing countries with access to safe drinking water and will continue to do so in the future. Groundwater is fairly ubiquitous, but its conditions vary enormously and exploitation is often undertaken with limited understanding of hydrogeology and without sufficient evaluation of the resource. In some places, heavy water use for agriculture has led to over-abstraction and placed groundwater out of the reach of domestic users as water tables have fallen. There are also regions where groundwater quality is not fit for human consumption (e.g. due to a high level of arsenic, fluoride, iron or nitrates, or contamination from human impacts such as poor sanitation, oil spills or chemicals).

The objective of the Sustainable Groundwater Development theme is: Groundwater resources are properly considered and sustainably used for developing drinking water supply sources. The theme has three sub-topics:

  • Handpump Technology
  • Cost Effective Boreholes (includes machine drilling and manual drilling)
  • Cost Effective Water Resource Management

To find out more and to get involved join the Sustainable Groundwater Development community on dgroups, or one of the specialist groups:


Related Resources

Water safety plan

A field guide to improving drinking-water safety in small communities

The WHO Guidelines for drinking-water quality recommend the water safety plan (WSP) approach as
the most effective way of ensuring continuous provision of safe drinking-water. The challenges related
to drinking-water supply in rural areas and small towns are of notable concern across the entire WHO
European Region, but the WSP approach has been proven to work effectively in small-scale water supplies.
This field guide aims to support WSP implementation in small communities by providing brief explanations
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Groundwater Quality and Handpump Corrosion in Africa

UNDP-World Bank Handpumps Project

This report presents the experience from the World Bank-executed UNDPINTIS1/026 Handpumps Project, which analyzed groundwater quality and handpump corrosion in the West African subregion. First of all this report provides an overview of groundwater quality and its physico-chemical composition within the subregion comprising the following countries: Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Niger. This information can be of interest to thse sectors using or depending on groundwater, such as urban and rural water supply, agriculture, industry, and so forth. Additionally, this report covers subjects particularly related to the rural water supply sub-sector, such as the relationships between groundwater quality and user acceptance, groundwater pollution in the rural environment, variations of the physico-chemical composition of groundwater due to natural and anthropogenic effects, as well as some indications of groundwater quality as related to bacteriology. | more information »

India Mark II Redesign 2007-2012

Concept Paper

The following form the considered conclusions of Rowan Matthews-Frederick after managing a program with Medair, North Sudan in West Darfur which was responsible for installation and maintenance of more than 170 India Mark II hand pumps. Further to this, work has continued in constructing, testing and computer modelling some solutions to hand pump issues with Nile Centre for Alternative Technology (NileCAT). There are many other ideas yet to be pursued that have potential to increase the reliability and ease of maintenance of the hand pumps.
Although the following observations tend to focus on the engineering related issues it is not intended to take away from the importance of the ‘softer’ issues. Please forgive the predominance of using the first person and the occasional ‘royal we’. This is not intended to be a thorough going engineering report. It is born of a diverse experience and desire to provide the basic necessities to the world’s most disadvantaged people. | more information »

Behaviour of deepwell handpumps with PVC rising mains

This report is intended for persons with a technical background, who are involved in the manufacturing, implementation and maintenance of medium and deepwell handpumps. But It also alms at persons Involved in handpump research and development, as well as consultants.
The report summarizes the main results of the Investigations and explains the basic principles and problems related to deepwell handpumps with PVC rising mains. It indicates in a general sense how to improve handpump design.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | more information »

Conversion of IM II/III to Force & Lift applications

A short guide in two parts to converting India Mark II or Mark III handpumps to Force Lift pumps that can pump water to an elevated tank.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | more information »

Pompes à motricité humaine en Afrique subsaharienne

Hand pumps in sub-Saharan Africa

En Afrique subsaharienne, les principaux modes d’approvisionnement en eau potable en milieu rural sont les puits protégés et les forages équipés d’une pompe à motricité humaine. Pour viser les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement, des efforts doivent être faits pour augmenter le rythme de réalisation des ouvrages hydrauliques, mais aussi pour mettre en place des systèmes de gestion des points d’eau améliorés plus performants et durables.
Après un rappel des principales caractéristiques des pompes à motricité humaine et des principaux facteurs déterminant la pérennité des points d’eau améliorés, le présent guide abordera successivement les principales composantes d’un programme d’hydraulique villageoise : la mobilisation sociale des usagers, l’implantation des points d’eau, l’exécution des forages et le captage des nappes, la fourniture et la pose des pompes à motricité humaine, l’aménagement des points d’eau, la formation des acteurs, et enfin la promotion des comportements hygiéniques. Certaines de ces activités sont à mettre en oeuvre de façon concomitante.
En annexe, le lecteur trouvera des éléments clés devant figurer dans les termes de référence du consultant en charge de l’étude de faisabilité d’un projet d’hydraulique villageoise et dans les termes de référence de l’ingénieur conseil du projet.

AVERTISSEMENT: Il s'agit d'une publication non-RWSN et approbation par RWSN ou l'une de ses organisations membres ne devraient pas être déduite | more information »

Groundwater in Rural Development : Facing the Challenges of Supply and Resource Sustainability

Water P-Notes Issue 19

Some 200 million people lived on Planet Earth at the start of the modern era. That number rose to 2.5 billion by 1950. At mid-2008, the population is now 7.0 billion and is expected to reach 9.0 billion by 2040. It thus took 1,950 years for the global population to grow ten-fold but only an additional 58 years to nearly triple. And throughout this period the global availability of water resources has remained more or less constant. Growing ever more food to feed rising populations will be possible only with increasingly large amounts of water being used for agricultural irrigation, even allowing for further advances in plant genetics. Groundwater widely developed by private initiative but often stimulated by 'soft loan' finance, guaranteed crop prices, and rural energy subsidies will be a very important source of irrigation water. At the same time groundwater will continue to be the predominant source of household water for the rural population in developing nations.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | more information »

Sudan Drilling Status Report 2012

Development of Code of Practice for Cost Effective Boreholes and Drilling Strategy

The Government of Sudan has developed National and State Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategic Plans for 2012 to 2016. Under the plans it is envisaged that several thousands of boreholes will need to be drilled annually to meet the water supply targets. The Government with UNICEF support developed 10 Principles for Cost Effective Boreholes which were adopted by stakeholders at a workshop in Khartoum in 2009 as the framework for future borehole provision in the country.
This is the report of a study to evaluate the status of drilling and drilling practices within the framework of the 10 principles and from it develop a National Code of Practice for Borehole Construction and a National Drilling Strategy for Sudan. Information were collected from the public and private sectors and the NGOs in 8 states.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | more information »

Hand drilling a shallow tube-well and fitting a simple “Bailer-bucket” in Zimbabwe

The construction of the lighter duty, simple hand operated drilling rig has been described in another manual and was designed for drilling shallow tube wells in softer soil formations, which occur in some areas of Zimbabwe. Currently the drilling stems extend to a maximum of 12m. Staff members of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare are familiar with local shallow ground water conditions in Zimbabwe. A depth of 12m is suitable for the use of this simple rig in combination with simple water raising devices like the Bailer-bucket, Bucket Pump and Blair Pump. | more information »

Technical Guidelines for Construction and Maintenance of Hand Dug Wells

Sierra Leone

This document represents the official guidelines of the Government of Sierra Leone on the issue of the construction and maintenance of hand dug wells.

This publication is intended for water sector practitioners and managers who coordinate and oversee water supply service delivery. It is the outcome of a partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources, Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), and a number of implementing agencies working in the WASH sector in Sierra Leone.

If this publication can contribute to permanent and lasting water points in Sierra Leone, and better standards of construction, then it will have achieved its purpose.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | more information »