Groundwater development

The potential of tube-wells to provide clean drinking water and sufficient quantities for irrigation is very high. Manual well drilling techniques are a good complementary approach to conventional machine drilling methods or hand dug methods to utilize groundwater. Our rural water supply programs and smart irrigation programs all relate to the theme of groundwater development.

  • Remote areas can be accessed to serve communities that are not reached by national water supply programs;
  • The equipment can be produced locally which allows small enterprises to start up a business;
  • Manual drilling is 2 to 5 times cheaper than conventional drilling for wells of equal high quality;
  • It overcomes challenges in collapsing soils as encountered with hand digging.


PRACTICA’s experience in groundwater development programs started in the late 1990’s during the West Bengal Terrai Development Program in India. The program focused on action-research around the interaction between pumps, filters, wells and aquifers. We learned hands-on from local technicians (mistri’s) how to drill tube wells with locally made tools & materials and the role of the private sector in the dissemination and uptake of low cost technology. We continuously strive to use best practices and approaches from countries and use our R&D capacity in the Netherlands and Madagascar to innovate in this theme.

20 years later, PRACTICA has left a significant footprint in the dissemination of low cost drilling techniques in over 15 countries and trained & equipped over 150 small companies to offer their services to the sector. With a sectoral approach, we guide NGO’s and governments on the introduction of manual drilling offering tailor made training to both development and relief sector.

PRACTICA works on professionalizing the manual drilling sector throughout Africa by large capacity building programs. In collaboration with UNICEF a manual drilling toolkit was produced in French and English with geo-hydrological feasibility mappings of 14 countries in Africa, practical training/fabrication/education manuals, video’s and advocacy materials.

Some of our latest developments are in the field of low cost geophysical instruments and data management. Low cost siting offers a new tool for enterprises and practitioners to assess the geo-hydrology and increase the success rate for well drilling. These tools are based on resistivity measurements and are available for less than €1000, – including a smartphone based innovative application to support users with the interpretation and visualization. Data from siting, drilling and well construction is valuable for any existing and future development project. This data if however often lost, in various formats or just on paper. Therefore, a set of Apps was developed to capture such valuable data and store them in a geo-hydrological database. We are now making efforts to roll-out improved data management in a number of training projects.

For emergencies, there is often insufficient time and a lack of good materials to produce tools locally. For this reason, we have developed a high-end manual rotary jetting kit to provide immediate response. The kit can be flown in to be used by WASH experts in drilling boreholes. The equipment is made in such a way that it can be replaced and repaired with local components, making it an ideal technology to be transferred to the private sector in transition to development.

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