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Perceived poor performance of hand pumped boreholes has been a persistent problem in Africa

TitleA methodology for assessment of the physical sub-system of hand pumped boreholes : initial insights
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMacAllister, DJ, Kebede, S, Dessie, N, Yehualaeshet, T, Zemenu, G, Fallas, H, Macdonald, AM
Secondary TitleAll systems go! WASH Systems Symposium, The Hague, the Netherlands, 12-14 March 2019
Pagination14 p.: 12 fig.: 1 tab.
Date Published03/2019
Publication LanguageEnglish
Keywordsboreholes, Functionality, groundwater, hand pumps, rural water supply

Perceived poor performance of hand pumped boreholes has been a persistent problem in Africa. The UPGro Hidden Crisis project has brought together an interdisciplinary team of researchers to examine boreholes equipped with hand pumps in Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. The project has 1) devised and applied a survey method to provide nuanced data on the functionality of the hand pumped borehole system and 2) conducted a full physical sub-system investigation, consisting of the assessment of 150 hand pumped boreholes. The physical sub-system consists of the hydrogeology and hydrochemistry, the borehole and the hand pump. Results from the functionality survey show that although up to 80% of hand pumped boreholes may be producing water, much fewer (often <50%) are able to deliver the hand pump design yield reliably for more than 11 months of the year.  

Our physical sub-system investigation of hand pumped boreholes involved testing the aquifer, hand pump materials, water quality and borehole examination with a CCTV camera. The initial data analysis, carried out using three sites in the Ejere district of Ethiopia, highlights potential issues with aquifer yield and borehole construction that could contribute to failure. In parallel, communities were asked detailed questions about their experience of the source, using focus group discussions and transect walks, and sanitary and geological surveys were also conducted. Data from the study will be examined using different approaches, including predictive and casual statistical approaches and systems thinking. These methods will be applied to facilitate investigation of the relationship between, and influence of, the physical and social factors underlying poor borehole functionality. 



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