Approximately 480 million people in Africa live without access to safe water supplies, most in areas that could be appropriately supplied with water from hand-pumped boreholes. The African Water Bank contends that the current cost of drilled boreholes in Africa can be halved by relaxing borehole specifications in favour of smaller diameter bores drilled by more manoeuvrable, lower cost equipment.
Groundwater is generally a readily available source of water throughout Africa. However, high borehole construction costs are slowing progress on increased access. Higher costs are largely a result of using drilling equipment with specifications that are greater than those required for the vast majority of boreholes needed in Africa.
Using high cost machinery and support equipment leads to high borehole costs, which in turn results in fewer boreholes being drilled. The smaller volume of work per drilling rig creates inefficiencies in equipment usage, and results in increased overheads, driving up costs dramatically.
The average cost of drilling a borehole can be reduced from US$8,000 to US$4,000. These sizable cost reductions have the potential to contribute to Africa’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water supply and sanitation and dramatically improve the lives of millions of rural Africans.
The African Water Bank is currently working with in – country water resource management experts and bodies to:
- Review and revise outdated national standards (and legislation) that favour conservative borehole designs
- Develop an effective small business sector, made up of African drilling contractors, based in rural areas and spread amongst the communities they are required to serve
- Promote new, appropriate drilling technologies
- Provide continuity of work for local businesses.
The African Water Bank is committed to driving all of these reforms and implementing a water point development program at the same time.