Siting and Testing of Boreholes in Bangladesh

Groundwater Relief assess water supplies for Rohingya Refugee Camps

Kutupalong “Mega” refugee camp

During November 2017 Groundwater Relief sent two hydrogeologists to Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh to support the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to carry out a preliminary assessment of groundwater availability at two refugee camps (Leda and Kutupalong). Groundwater Relief ( ) were mobilized at short notice and, amongst other equipment, took with them two water level meters donated earlier in the year to them by In-Situ.

The resulting report produced in November 2017, included a significant body of geological and hydrogeological evidence, which was used to identify sites for January 2018 drilling, and secure landowner permission.

A desperate need for water

Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by the influx of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians into Cox’s Bazaar, fleeing from the violent attacks on their villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

The enormous influx of refugees arriving into Cox’s Bazaar has put pressure on certain areas with already limited water resource availability. Although rainfall exceeds 4 meters per year in Cox’s Bazaar, the majority of this is deposited between May and October, and so in the dry season where groundwater sources are not available, freshwater resources are scarce.

At Leda camp, which is underlain by the Bokabil shales, existing water sources, already under extreme stress during the months of January to April, are now in danger of not being able to meet the needs of new arrivals in 2018. There is, therefore, an urgent need for new water sources to be found and developed.

Figure 1: Borehole records, pump test results and resistivity surveys inform the borehole site assessment work carried out by Groundwater Relief.

Water Resource Assessments

Water resource assessments have included (Figure 1) test pumping of existing water wells, in which the In-Situ water level meters were

used, and resistivity surveys to identify outcrops of water-bearing sandstones within the unproductive Bokabil Shales bedrock.

There is long-established experience of well drilling using locally constructed manual and mechanical drilling rigs (Figures 2 and 3), which are always crowd-drawing (if precarious) attractions.




Figure 2: Left & Centre: Manual and Mechanical Drilling Rigs in use in Bangladesh. Right: In-Situ water level meter at borehole site.


Figure 3: Manual Drilling Operation

Ongoing Support by Groundwater Relief

Geraint Burrows, CEO of Groundwater Relief, kindly provided the images and information for this blog. When asked about ongoing assessment efforts he commented:

“Works are continuing with one Groundwater Relief hydrogeologist currently supporting MSF-OCA (Médecins Sans Frontières – Operational Centre Amsterdam) in Kutupalong camp. Another hydrogeologist is due to fly out in early January to further support the IOM with

groundwater development at Kutupalong camp and to supervise the drilling of test wells in Leda, targeted on sand deposits identified using 2D resistivity surveys (carried out by Advisian on behalf of UNHCR and Oxfam).”

As part of the work, an online GIS map was developed to bring together the field-based information collected.

For more on manual groundwater level measurement, see earlier blogs:

Links to In-Situ water level measurement equipment:

©Peter Dumble 2017 21 December 2017

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