Wellspring Africa

A non-profit organization committed to researching and promoting
appropriate technology for water development in rural Africa

21 Sunflower Court
Durham, NC  27713

Email: missenc@wellspringafrica.org


Wellspring Africa is a small non-profit organization that was founded to promote water procurement in rural Africa.

Since 1984 we have been researching simple well drilling technology and training drillers.  The well drilling technology we promote -- hand-powered percussion drilling -- dates back to 1100 B.C. and the drilling methods have been used successfully throughout history in China, Europe, and the Americas.  Made by local craftspeople from locally-available scrap materials, the tools have proved to be cheap (about $250 for a set of tools) and very effective.

    A Description of our Hand Powered Percussion Drill

Our goal is to promote these simple technologies so that the villagers themselves can become self-sufficient in creating their own water sources.

  We have produced a manual and video to teach these water well drilling practices.  (Click here.)  These are available in traditional formats as well as on a CD.
  We have created a kit that contains all the "tricky bits" for making a percussion drill, packed to meet airline size and weight requirements. (Click here.)
  As well, we have collaborated with the Practica Foundation in the Netherlands to to write another percussion drilling handbook as a part of their series on manual well drilling. (Click here.)
We have consulted with hundreds of drillers and project managers worldwide.  Visiting sites in Costa Rica, Ghana, Liberia, and Tanzania.
We occasionally do demonstration projects to train more drillers.  Our goal is to work with those who have a long-term commitment to building a sustainable small-scale well drilling industry.  In 1985 Wellspring Africa volunteers spent nine months in Liberia, West Africa, training technicians in rural villages to drill deep wells.  In 1999-2000 we trained drillers in central Nigeria.  In 2006 we worked with drillers in Tanzania.  In 2008 we trained drillers in Niger. 
We have given hundreds of presentations to civic groups, churches, and classrooms, promoting small-scale water development and artisanal well makers.

We believe that the only way we are going to see broad-based and sustainable potable water development in the rural areas of lesser developed countries is through small scale technologies like the ones we are rediscovering, wherein the villagers themselves decide when and where and how the well is to be made and have the means to carry out their wishes themselves.

The United Nations Water Decade of the 1980s demonstrated that the fancy and expensive technology of truck mounted drills are rarely sustainable and simply cannot scale to meet the needs of the remote areas of the developing world, where the bulk of its population lives.  We believe that this simple drilling technology is the best answer to this predicament and our research has shown that it has been used for ages throughout the world, in almost every type of soil and stone, with great success.

Lately, though, we've been formulating new ideas for scaling water resource development to meet the still burgeoning demand.  Please take a few minutes to read...

    A Proposal to Reorient Rural Water Development Efforts toward a more Entrepreneurial Model

For further information, read my 1990 paper:

    Appropriate Technology Strategies for Rural Water Development After the Decade

-- Cliff Missen

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