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

Code of Practice for Water Well Construction


This Nigerian Code of Practice for Well Construction was elaborated by the Technical Committee for Water Well Construction.
Groundwater development is one of the sources of the Federal and State Governments Water Supply Intervention Programmes under which government embarked on construction of open wells and boreholes in order to increase access to portable water to Nigerians. However, water well construction is still characterized by cases of “failed hole”, poor quality service, and unprofessional conduct of drillers and lack of established code to regulate the practice of water well drilling in Nigeria. These are serious concern to government, donor agencies and sector stakeholders who see them as militating factors towards attainment of water supply project objectives in particular and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in general. This Code of Practice was therefore elaborated to provide the framework for water well construction in Nigeria.
In the elaboration of this Code of Practice, reference made to Nigerian Industrial standards and National standards of other countries are acknowledged. | more information »

Handpumps: where now?

A synthesis of online discussions (2012-2014)

In 2012, RWSN established as its online electronic platform for membership and discussion. The groundwater and handpump groups have been among the most active communities. The number and depth of contributions has been rich, and several members have asked for a synthesis of the discussions. They main topics that emerged were:
1. Water Quality - particularly iron and pump corrosion
2. Procurement, Quality Control and Installation
3. Sustaining handpumps - what is the average lifespan of a handpump?
4. Handpump component failures and the need to redesign public domain designs
5. The politics of new pump designs: the Squirrel Cage Pump

Join the debate at on dgroups, using the links below. | more information »

UNICEF Hand Pump R&D Project in Ranga Reddy District Andhra Pradesh

Concluding Report

This Project represents the next generation of systematic development of hand pump components with modern materials under UNICEF’s sponsorship, both intellectually and financially. This Project also establishes the relevance of Ranga Reddy Test Area for hand pumps, where field testing of hand pumps under deep static water table conditions has been undertaken for many years. Hence, the results of this project’s field trials supercede similar work done in the past on similar materials and under similar or more favourable physical conditions.

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

Water quality testing to establish whether high iron originates from corrosion of pump components or the aquifer

Method Sheet

The Problem:
(1) Production of a red/brown coloured discharge first thing in the morning. This is caused by the discharge of corrosion products that have accumulated in the well during the night when there was no pumping. In most cases, the discharge clears up as the solid corrosion products are removed from the well.

(2) Discolouration of water which was clear when pumped, but develops a red/brown discolouration after a few minutes to hours. This is the result of the oxidation of ferrous iron (Fe2+) to ferric iron (Fe3+), which causes the precipitation of iron hydroxides and oxides. This could be caused by either naturally high ferrous iron in the aquifer, or the addition of iron to the well water from corrosion of handpump components. | more information »

Handpumps Testing and Development: Progress Report on Field and Laboratory Testing

Work Bank Technical Paper Number 29

Rural Water Supply Handpumps Project

The UNDP/World Bank Project for the Testing and Technological Development of Handpumps for Rural Water Supply is field testing a total of 2860 pumps of 76 pump types in 17 countries. The Project has also completed full tests of 23 pump models at the Consumers' Association Laboratory in the United Kingdom and plans more tests both in the U.K^. and in laboratories elsewhere. Emphasis has been placed on the development of pumps which are suitable for "Village Level Operation and Maintenance" (VLOM).

The current report reviews all Project activities and conclusions to date, concentrating on field work but also summarizing laboratory activities. It relates significant findings in the development and use of VLOM handpumps. The report also reviews activities essential for the success of rural and urban fringe handpump programs, including community participation, caretaker training, and proper construction of wells and boreholes. | more information »

India Mark II hand pumps with open top cylinders in low lift application

Maintenance data analysis from 1986 till March, 1992

Phase 1 of the Orissa Drinking Water Supply project took place from August 1985 to December 1987 and resulted in the installation of about 1600 handpumps on tube wells. In Phase II of the project, 2000 handpumps were installed by August 1989 in 5 blocks and a further 600 pumps installed in another 4 blocks.

This paper confines itself to the analysis of the maintenance data of the 29 India Mark II pumps since their installations in 1986 and up to the 31st March 1992.

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

Performance of PVC riser pipes with India Mark II hand pumps

Results from field trials February 1988 to March 1992

Phase I of the Danida assisted Rural Drinking Water Supply Project in coastal Orissa was implemented during August 1985 to March 1988. During this period approximately 1650 tube wells with handpumps were constructed in 3 blocks of the 20 blocks of the project area. By 1987, the functionality study and maintenance system indicated that pump were falling into disuse to deterioration of water quality in the wells. Offensive odour, unacceptable colour and taste were common features observed from these wells.

This report analyses the problem and put forwards practical recommendations.

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

Performance of India Mark II solid link suction pumps in Danida assisted water supply project in coastal Orissa

Project Report

This first India Mark II Solid Link Suction was installed by Danida assiated Drionking Water Supply Project in Coastal Orissa, India in December 1986. This report is a performance analysis of the India Mark II Solid Link Suction pumps at the closure of the Orissa Project in December 1994. While about 750 pump had been installed by September 1994, detailed maintenance history were available for 229 pumps, installed in 6 blocks of coastal Orissa. This data forms the basis of this report.

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

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
of the WSP process and practical templates for field use. | more information »

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 »