EWB-UK National Research Conference 2010
‘From Small Steps to Giant Leaps...putting research into practice’
Hosted by The Royal Academy of Engineering19
February 2010Panel Presentation: Putting Research into PracticeAuthor: Dave Howey & Ron DennisInstitution: Developing Technologies 1
The application of appropriate well drilling technology in Sierra Leone
and D.A. Howey
Developing Technologies, Room CG54, Tait Building, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0HB, United Kingdom.Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8109, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ.
This paper describes the objectives and results of a 4-month EWB-UK placement to Sierra Leone in 2009 to continue work on thepercussion drill and well drilling programme of Developing Technologies. The percussion drill is an intermediate technology productwhich began as an undergraduate student research project and is now being turned into a sustainable enterprise in Sierra Leone. Todate this project has successfully supported wells in ten villages, serving 2,500 people. The project has also demonstrated theeffectiveness of locally made rope-washer pumps.
Developing Technologies, percussion drill, intermediate technology, appropriate technology, rope-washer pump
Developing Technologies (DT) is an innovative UK charity working to alleviate the effects of poverty in developing countries throughthe design, development and transfer of technology that is appropriate to the needs of poor communities. Through student projectwork, DT provides technical support to organisations working in developing countries. Every effort is made to find demand-led projectsand to transfer projects overseas with ongoing support for implementation and dissemination. Started in 2001, and now backed by theconsiderable engineering resources of two large London universities, DT has successfully trialled technology in six countries and hasseven projects in development.At the EWB-UK research conference 2009, we presented a case study of a percussion drill for sinking water wells . The project wasoriginally initiated as a student project at Imperial College in 2005/6 and is now being implemented in two countries, Sierra Leone andTanzania. This paper gives an update on the percussion drill programme, following a recent 4-month EWB-UK placement to SierraLeone in 2009, and draws out results and lessons learnt.This is an example of a project which has successfully moved from student undergraduate research through to implementation and isnow being scaled up and turned into a sustainable enterprise.
Worldwide nearly one billion people lack access to clean drinking water, causing over 3.5 million deaths annually (WHO). In SierraLeone 27% of children die before the age of five, largely due to diarrhoea caused by dirty drinking water. Developing Technologies hasdeveloped a low-cost version of the percussion drill aimed at setting up local well-drilling enterprises. Currently most wells are hand-
dug in around three months and are usually inadequate to provide water through the dry season. DT’s design can be manufacture
dlocally and can be transported to areas without road access. Crucially it can also sink wells in a range of soils and rock. Our localpartner, Rural Water Aid (RWA) can now install wells more cheaply than by hand-digging, in two weeks instead of three months, andwith a higher success rate. To date wells have been installed in ten villages serving around 2,500 people and we are now working todevelop a viable local enterprise to provide long-lasting safe water.Most water wells are drilled by large commercial rigs costing £100,000 or more and requiring large funding. Smaller percussion drill rigsare available but cost around £15,000 with all tools. It is therefore costly to set up small enterprises for local well-drilling programmesand there is a definite niche for a low-cost, portable rig that could be largely manufactured locally, and could access off-roadcommunities that larger rigs could not reach. Human powered percussion drilling is fairly common but is slow and time-consuming. Theaim of the project is to develop an intermediate solution between this and the costly commercial rigs.
In April 2009, EWB-UK volunteer Chris Cleaver was sent to Sierra Leone to undertake a 4-month placement, with a number of objectives to continue and expand the work on the percussion drill: