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Boreholes help address Africa’s water crisis

In Africa, 420 million people do not have access to clean water. That’s approximately 1 in 3 people! This has a huge impact on the lives of people, their health and their long-term prospects. In many countries on the continent, boreholes are a lifeline as they are the only source of safe water for hundreds of communities. They’re critical for the survival of people and their animals.

What is a borehole?


A water borehole is a deep hole created by drilling into the ground to get to the bedrock where underground water can be found and brought to the surface. Borehole water comes from rain and from rivers. Water from these natural sources leaks through layers of rock underground and accumulates in underground areas.

Drilling is planned where it’s most likely to find these water bodies. A steel casing (a strong thick pipe) is installed along the hole circumference and a pumping system is installed on the surface. This allows people to extract natural water directly from the ground.

The Benefits of Boreholes


  • A borehole is the most cost-effective solution to gain access to water for human consumption and for farming. A well-constructed borehole can last for fifteen years or more. With proper maintenance, running costs are minimal.


  • Borehole water has many benefits. It’s rich in minerals and generally chemical and pollutant free. This natural water doesn’t need to be treated/cleaned with chlorine or other chemicals. Because it’s already been filtered and cleaned by Mother Earth herself, all the good-for-you minerals remain.


  • Boreholes are sustainable and environmentally friendly. A well-constructed borehole will yield a steady water supply for many years with little negative impact on the environment.


  • Boreholes lessen the burden on communities in areas that are water scarce because water is now readily available so they don’t have to collect water from distant sources.

Every Borehole is Different


When drilling a borehole, there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. This is because the type of ground (on the surface and underground) will affect the drilling process. The depth we need to drill to, to find the water source, will also vary.

The Cost of Boreholes


Because every borehole is unique, so too are the costs. Costs are affected by the following factors:

  • Depth – How deep do we have to drill before reaching an underground water source?
  • Type of ground to drill through. Is it rock, sand or clay, or a combination of these?
  • Duration of This varies from borehole to borehole and includes site assessment and planning, on-site work (drilling, pipework and cable installation, submersing the pump) and finally, testing of the system. This could be anything between 5 to 15 days.

Sponsor a water project and help change lives


Africa Relief Fund has been building boreholes in countries in the Horn of Africa for over twenty years. We know only too well about the varying costs of construction. But we’ve also seen the positive impact they have. Access to clean water changes peoples’ lives overnight and uplifts them for years to come. It gives communities an opportunity to better their health, their income-earning capacity and their children’s education and future prospects.

The type of water intervention we introduce is based on the needs of the communities and by considering the most suitable and efficient solution for the site. We also build water wells/tube wells, rainwater harvesting systems, earth dams and solar-powered water wells. We decide on the type of solution after engaging with the local communities and other stakeholders.  

Learn more about our water projects in Somalia, Kenya, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Djibouti. If you’d like to help provide clean water, you can donate towards the construction of a borehole and water wells or fund the entire project. You can do this in your name or in the name of a departed loved one earning them Sadaqah Jariyah – rewards for eternity.

‘The best charity to give is water to drink.’ (Ahmad)