Hand Dug Wells

Hand dug wells can come in many forms, from simple holes in the ground with limited protection, to covered wells with a handpump for extracting the water.


Oxfam Instruction Manual for Hand Dug Well Equipment

Oxfam Technical Brief 6: Repairing, Cleaning and Disinfecting Hand Dug Wells

Minimum Requirements

  • Wells should be dug during the dry season, to ensure the availability of water during all seasons.
  • Always line hand-dug wells.
  • Liners should adhere to Oxfam standard of 1.5m external and 1.3m internal diameters and 100mm thickness e.g. stone masonry or rendered, concrete ring.
  • All hand-dug wells should have a minimum of 1m raised wellheads, and concrete aprons with proper drainage leading to gravel soak pits should be included (consider highest flood level). Consider protective fences or barriers around the vicinity of the well to keep animals away.
  • Where necessary address livestock and agriculture water needs in the design of the well.
  • Gravel filters should be included at the bottom and sides of wells and drainage channels.
  • Always incorporate a sanitary seal, preferably a 1:2:4 concrete mix 1m from ground level (water table permitting).
  • Ensure that an appropriate water-lifting device is installed that is acceptable to the user, easy to maintain and minimises well water contamination.
  • Ensure that the wells are resilient to natural disasters by provision for deepening in drought prone areas and providing necessary protection from flooding.