Drilling rig helps cut need for aid

December 1, 2000

While Europe wallows in a flood-damaged reappraisal of its water management, Cranfield University is offering liquid refreshment further afield, writes Tim Greenhalgh.

The university has just demonstrated a water supply drilling rig developed as part of the research project "Private sector participation in low cost water well drilling in Africa". The project aims to place water supply technology in the hands of small private sector contractors in African countries.

Richard Carter, senior lecturer in water supply management who leads the Cranfield project, said: "The long-term aim was to reduce the dependency of developing countries on aid funding for basic water supply infrastructure. This project, despite being of a relatively small scale, is part of that process."

The Cranfield Pounder rig constructs shallow, small-diameter wells for water for domestic and small-scale agricultural purposes.

It was developed with funding from the Department for International Development, the Ugandan government and aid agencies. In the past, most wells were provided through aid programmes funded by agencies and non-governmental organisations. This project, although supported by such agencies, works to strengthen the private sector.

The rigs will fit into community projects, where local people work alongside small private contractors, with the support of local government who, in the short term, will continue to part-fund water supply infrastructure.

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