Use of remote sensing and terrain modelling to identify suitable zones for manual drilling in Africa and support low cost water supply

Lead Research Organisation: University of Milan-Bicocca
Department Name: Remote Sen of Environmental Dynamics Lab


In the framework of the programme for the achievement of MDG (MIllenium Development Goals) for water supply, UNICEF is promoting manual drilling throughout Africa; with different activities: advocacy, mapping of suitable zones, technical training and institutional support.
Manual drilling refers to those techniques of drilling boreholes for groundwater exploitation using human or animal power (not mechanized equipment). These techniques are well known in countries with large alluvial deposits (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc). They are cheaper than mechanized boreholes, easy to implement as the equipment is locally done, able to provide clean water if correctly applied.
But manual drilling is feasible only where suitable hydrogeological conditions are (shallow layers not to hard and groundwater not deeper than 25 m).

Therefore a preliminary identification of suitable areas is necessary. The method for the identification of suitable zones at country levelalready aplied in 15 countries is based on the analysis of existing hydrogeological data. But an improved approach to have more reliable interpretation and more detailed analysis of the hydrogeological contex is required.

The proposed research aims:
- to contribute to define an improved methodology for the characterization of shallow geological conditions integrating other sources of indirect data
- to produce more detailed suitability maps in the selected area, with the goal of supporting the implementation of manual drilling construction program.

The research involves the collaboration of research centres and institutional partners in Italy, Senegal and Guinea. In particular these entities will participate:
Univeristy of Milano Bicocca (Italy)
University CHeick Anta Diop in Dakar (Senegal)
UNICEF Senegal country office
UNICEF GUinea country office
SNAPE (National Water Authority) Guinea
School of MInes Boke' - Guinea)

Planned Impact

The research project aims to improve the effectiveness of implementation of manual drilling in Guinea and Senegal, and provide a methodology that can be replicated in all other countries where manual drilling can give an important contribution to overcome the difficult situation for insufficient water supply that affect millions of people.
In this sense, the project is supporting the program of different organization to introduce low cost techniques to improve water supply coverage in many countries and contribute to achieve MDG (Millenium Development Goal ) for Water supply.

This project is expected to give a direct benefit to those villagers living in remote areas and having limited access to drinking water. For them, manual drilling gives a real alternative to traditional hand digging of wells or mechanized boreholes, with the positive effect not only in terms of increasing their access to safe water (therefore decreasing the incidence of waterborne diseases and improving their health condition) but also creating new chances for job (as manual drilling requires low capital investment for the equipment but large human labour).
Only in Guinea it is estimated that more than 5 million people can receive benefit from manually drilled boreholes, especially those people where difficult access make complicated the construction of mechanized boreholes.

The direct users of the results will be those organizations who are involved in activities to improve water supply in Africa. Furthermore research centre in Africa and other countries that are using remote sensing techniques for environmental monitoring and natural resources management can take some lessons from the experience that the project will carry out.

The project is proposed directly in two countries in Africa (Guinea and Senegal) for different reasons: the scientific model of analysis can be tested in different environmental context (different geology morphology, climate), but also it is important the interchange of information and joint collaboration of groups from different African countries. The direct investigations during the project is focused in two areas of these countries, but the scientific approach and the model of coordination between organizations can be exported and replicated in other countries

Considering the different categories of potential users of the results, it is important that national institutions, international agencies and academic organizations and ngos can have easy access to the information produced. For this reason the agreement with local government and UN agencies to facilitate circulation of the results is important, as well as their involvement in using the results as a support in the definition of water supply development policy and support program for the improvement of water supply.