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The application of Appropriate Technology

There are various techniques for drilling a drinking water or irrigation tube well. The drilling method used is related to the soil conditions and the financial means available. In general, drilling techniques can be divided into two categories i.e. drilling with a machine or manually.

The greatest difference between the two methods is that drilling with a machine is much more expensive than drilling by hand. The manual method is thus the preferred choice for low-cost wells but it obviously has its limitations.

If the ground is too hard like for instance solid rock, manual drilling is often not feasible and only machine drilling can be considered. In certain circumstances, digging the well by hand may be an option. However, there are certain disadvantages regarding the so-called “dug well”: the dangers while undertaking the work, the difficulty of penetrating deep enough into the aquifer, the relatively high costs and the poor hygienic conditions.

Practica has since 1999, conducted research into the possibilities of manually drilling low cost tube wells. The objective is to make this method as efficient and inexpensive as possible so as to make wells affordable for a larger part of the rural population in developing countries.

The research was initiated in North Bengal, India. There, drilling was done using the traditional Hand-sludge method. This technique could not pass hard layers or boulders and so additional tools were developed resulting in the Stone-hammer method.

In 2001 these methods were further tested in Nicaragua. Here, a rotary movement was added, resulting in the Rota- sludge method. The Rota-sludge and the Stonehammer methods together form a package. Basically one drills with the Rota Sludge until one hits a layer with boulders or stones, then one uses the Stone-hammer to pass through this layer and finally one switches back to Rota Sludge when the boulders are passed.

Part 1 of this manual describes, step by step, how the Rota sludge and Stone hammer method must be used and part 2 provides detailed drawings of the equipment.

Part 1 Drilling Manual PDF file (2.2 mb)

Part 2 Production Manual PDF file (0.5 mb)