Improved groundwater supplies (particularly drilled and hand dug water wells) provide a significant proportion of rural dwellers with access to safe water within a reasonable distance of their home. It is estimated that about 60,000 boreholes per year need to be drilled in sub-Saharan Africa alone to meet the MDG Target. Groundwater is almost ubiquitous in nature and can be developed relatively cheaply and progressively to meet demand. It often has a lower capital cost than surface water, generally has excellent natural quality and can normally be used without treatment. Groundwater usually has at least some cover to protect it from the threat of pollution from human activities. However, concerns have been raised about varying construction quality and high costs of drilled water wells. Given the massive need for improved water supplies coupled with limited investment, there is an urgent need to fully understand the extent of these concerns, build on strengths and address weaknesses.
The Code of Practice for Cost Effective Boreholes (Water Well Construction) is a culmination of five years of work by RWSN. It sets out the key principles that should be adhered to in order to provide optimum value for money in invested groundwater development for drinking water supplies over the long term. The Code of Practice provide clear and systematic guidance for analysis, decision-making and implementation of programmes that support the cost-effective provision of drilled water wells.