Evaluating Installation and Performance of Manually Drilled Wells in Northeastern Madagascar

Manual drilling is a popular solution for programs seeking to increase drinking water supply in rural Madagascar. Lightweight, affordable and locally produced drilling equipment allows rapid implementation where access is problematic and funds are limited. This report will look at the practical implications of using manual drilling as a one-step solution to potable water in rural development. The main benefits of using these techniques are time and cost savings. The author uses his experience managing a drilling campaign in northeastern Madagascar to explore the benefits and limitations of one particular drilling methodology – BushProof’s Madrill technique. Just under 200 wells were drilled using this method in the course of one fiscal year (September 2011- September 2012). The paper explores what compromises must be considered in the quest for cost-effective boreholes and whether everybody - from the implementers to project managers to clients and lawmakers - are in agreement about the consequences of such compromises. The paper also discusses water quality issues encountered when drilling in shallow aquifers.