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Cost of Drilling A Borehole in Kenya And Permits Required

By Prudence Minayo

With access to adequate water being a problem among many neighborhoods in Kenya, most people have resorted to drilling boreholes. Landlords especially need to have sufficient water in order to attract tenants to their buildings. Treated water supplied to homes across the country is often inadequate and in some places it could take days for residents to see a drop of water. This and other factors has made Borehole drilling a necessity in many areas and this article features the cost and process of drilling a Borehole in Kenya.

The article is divided into three phases: phase 1- before drilling, phase 2-drilling process and phase 3- after the drilling. 

Phase 1

Permits and Costs

Before embarking on a Borehole drilling mission, several procedures have to be followed in order to get permits. 

A Hydro-geological survey is the first process before permits are issued. This survey examines the groundwater potential within the area so as to eventually exploit the resources by drilling the borehole to serve the client with adequate water for domestic and subsistence purposes. It must be carried out by a qualified and registered geologist. 

After the survey, one applies for a drilling permit from the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA). This is an agent of the national government responsible for regulating management and use of water resources. An abstraction license from WRMA will only be issued after a proper Hydro-geological report. The cost of this is approximately Ksh55,000.

Following this, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be carried out and the findings presented to NEMA (National Environment Management  Authority). The EIA assesses both the positive and negative impacts on people and the environment. A permit is then issued after NEMA has established the project will have no negative impact on the immediate environment. The approximate cost at this stage is about Ksh45,000.

In some cases, a no objection letter from the local water service provider and local county permit may be required. 

The whole process of getting permits can take up to 30 days or less.

Phase 2

Actual Drilling 

The cost of Drilling a Borehole varies depending on a number of factors which include:

    • The width and height of the Borehole. A bigger and deeper borehole will be costly compared to a shallower one. 


  • The geographical location. Borehole drilling within Nairobi and its environs is cheaper. The farther from the drilling company, the more the price as you may be required to pay transportation prices.


  • The pricing policy of the company. Different companies offer different prices. It is up to a person to determine the most affordable one. 
  • The land. Some places are hard to drill compared to others. Where the land is very hard and filled with rocks the prices will be higher compared to a smoother place. 

The price per meter within Nairobi and its environs ranges from Ksh6,000 to Ksh6,500. 

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Most companies can drill between 80 to 100m per day. Most clients prefer a Borehole that ranges from 150m to 250m. However, the depth of a borehole may be largely dependent on reports from the hydro geologist survey. 

If one intends to drill  a 150m deep Borehole the price may be approximately between a range of 900,000/= to 975,000/= provided there are no complications which may lead to more money. 


After drilling, a pumping system has to be installed. The pump will depend on the amount of water and depth of the borehole. The deeper the borehole, the bigger the pump. If the pump is big, the price is definitely high compared to a smaller pump. 

Pump supply, installations and other accessories may range from 200,000/= to 800,000/=. 

Total cost

The whole process may take between 4 days to a week, if everything goes smoothly. Total cost from license to pumping ranges between Ksh1.2 million to Ksh3 million. 


There are a number of drilling companies to choose from. An indication of the quality of work and professionalism of a company can be assessed through:

  • The qualifications of key consultants 
  • The expertise of the team 
  • Type of equipment used by a company 
  • Previous work done by the company and its reviews 

A well constructed borehole should serve generations but some may require rehabilitation after a number of years.