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TitleRural boreholes and wells in Africa : economics of construction in hard rock terrain
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsSmith, CC
Paginationp. 100-111 : 1 fig., 5 tab.
Date Published2003-08-01
Keywordsafrica, boreholes, construction costs, dug wells, groundwater exploration, investment, rural areas, sdipol, social aspects, well construction

Basic water security can be provided to 100 million rural people in Africa for about US$ 5 billion. This figure could double or even triple if the success rates for borehole and dug well construction are not improved, according to this article which is based on four groundwater projects in hard rock terrain in Africa. The article includes a nomograph that helps quick determination of the extra costs attributable to failure (abandoned water points) and shows how much can economically be spent on better siting. In the case of hand-dug wells, it is generally quicker and cheaper to do trial digging rather than undertake high-cost groundwater exploration. For expensive boreholes, abandoned sites are much more expensive, making it usually worth spending more on proper siting from the start. Simple engineering guidelines can improve success rates. For example, basic hydrogeological fieldwork using aerial photographs to find low-lying areas with thick overburden can achieve success rates of over 75%. The article stresses that success rates are not only dependent on technology but also depend on social factors.

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