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Low-cost Private Sector Provision of Potable Water in Niger

In Niger only 59% of the people have access to an improved water source and this figure is considerably lower in the rural areas. The high cost of developing potable water sources is a major impediment to improved water access for many rural people.

For over 10 years, EnterpriseWorks/VITA has promoted various improved methods of well drilling for irrigation purposes both by hand and with inexpensive mechanized tools. In 2002, EWV began testing alternative well drilling methods in Niger that penetrate hard soil strata reaching deeper depths. Locally made hand pumps based on proven designs and manufacturing methods used for irrigation pumps were also developed. These techniques and technologies do not require large, costly machinery for drilling or the subsequent water lifting, making them significantly more affordable than other methods promoted by donors in Niger.

EWV utilized funding from the Department of State’s Economic Support Fund (ESF), UNICEF, and an anonymous donor to provide local private sector enterprises with training that enabled them to drill potable water wells under a variety of geological conditions to depths of up to 30 meters. In addition, EWV trained local workshops to manufacture pumps for potable water that can be built and maintained locally.

By October 2006, EWV had demonstrated that low cost manual well drilling and local pump manufacturing provides a viable and cost effective means to rural water supply problems. EWV’s decentralized, labor-intensive approach to water supply drastically reduced costs to communities, generated new job opportunities in this high-demand sector, and created local capacity and expertise for fabricating, installing, and maintaining equipment. The assumption of all capital and maintenance costs by the community ensures long-term sustainability of pump and well use. In the meantime, with funding received from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace in November 2006, EWV will continue its work in Niger ensuring that more underserved communities can affordably access water.


Download the Hand Augered Wells Manual to learn more: English (b&w), English (color), French