Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/28/2024

Project Features

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Mathem is a rural village with most of its vegetation untouched. This community is largely peaceful because most able-bodied men and women are on their farms doing their daily farm chores all day.

The village water source used to be at the center of the community, but people re-located their homes roughly one mile away. It is an entirely open, dangerous source.

The people cut palm trees and lay them across the opening of the waterhole. And they will stand on top of these palm trees to lower the rope and bucket down. This can be a very dangerous act, especially for the kids who can be so playful and lose their balance.

There are no rules around this water source nor attempts to keep the area clean. Some of these people have very little, if any at all, hygiene orientation.

So when they go to this water point, many people deposit all sorts of rubbish around the water area and when they launder near the water, some of the wastewater drains back into the hole.

Some people in this community do some domestic gardening around their homes and come to this source a lot to get water for irrigation.

Because this community lacks clean drinking water, some people will choose to trek to Lokomasama Junction which is about seven kilometers away. And on one these occasions, an elderly man on a motorbike carrying his drinking water hit an elderly lady in this village.

"If I don’t have enough clean drinking water and decides to drink water from another source that is unprotected, I experience stomachache. In extreme cases I suffer from diarrhea," Mr. Abu Sesay said.

Fewer than half of households here have latrines. Some of the latrines here are made of locally produced mud bricks whiles others are made of fabric. The floors are paved with kernel shells from the palm nuts mixed with mud, but the holes are constantly left open with mosquitoes and flies all over the place. The few that have handwashing facilities do not have any water in them.

"I must confess that our state of hygiene in this community is very poor," Mama Boiyoh Kamara said.

"Our farming engagements will not allow us to observe a proper hygiene upkeep. As you have seen most people will go to the bush very early in the morning not minding any hygiene practice. So I cannot tell you that our status is anywhere near satisfactory."

Here’s what we plan to do about it:


There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered for three days in a row.

After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach community members how to build a tippy tap (a handwashing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for handwashing demonstrations, and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.

These trainings will also build up and strengthen a water user committee that will manage and maintain this well. They will enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.

New Well

This borehole will in Mathem Village, which is the best location because there are no latrines nearby.

Our team will drive over the LS200 mud rotary drill rig and set up camp for a couple of nights. Once the well is drilled to a sufficient water column, it will be cased, developed, and then tested. If these tests are positive, our mechanics will install a new India Mark II pump.

This community has struggled to find clean water to drink. By drilling this borehole, people living in Mathem Village will be provided with plenty of safe drinking water.

Project Updates

February, 2019: Continuing Work in Mathem Community

The drill team finished a new borehole for Mathem Community at the end of 2018. They ran water quality tests that revealed that this first borehole does not meet our standards for drinking water. We are committed to Mathem Community and will do what it takes to reach clean water. The team is moving locations in the community to drill again, which is scheduled for March 2019. Everyone is so grateful for the team's perseverance to bring clean, safe drinking water to the hundreds of people living in this part of Sierra Leone.

April, 2018: Mathem community well complete!

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable borehole well at Mathem community. The students and community members no longer have to rely on unsafe water to meet their daily needs. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.

New Well

The drilling of this new borehole was a success, and clean water is flowing!

The team after consulting with community authorities for formal introduction and explanation of the purpose of their visit. They then embarked on the set up of their camping tent not far away from the drill site. Materials that were supposed to be kept in the tent were all packed in the tent and for those that the tent could not accommodate were instead packed outside of the tent but not far away, for security.

Digging water pit for drilling

The team then proceeded with setting the drill rig up the following day and still managed to dig the 4'x4'x3' pits. These pits hold water that is constantly mixed with bentonite for drilling. The bentonite water helps compact the soil so that it does not collapse during the drilling process.

2 pits were dug next to the drill rig, 1 for the drill’s water supply and another for what was pulled back up out of the borehole. Since the community already struggles with finding enough water, we ordered a private supplier to deliver the water we needed for drilling.

Day 1 of drilling started with filling the 2 pits with water mixed with bentonite. A 4-inch carbide-tipped bit was fixed to the 5-foot-long drill stem. The mud pump was started to supply water to the drill rig and the drilling starts. During drilling, after every 5-foot length of drill stem put into the hole the team would take material samples. The bags were labeled 1, 2, 3, and so on. These are to be reviewed later to determine the aquifer locations.

The second day of drilling was meant to expand the hole and clear it of mud. The team reached a total depth of 27.3 meters.

The team forcefully pumped clean water into the well to clear out any mud and debris from drilling. After, filter pack was added so that the screened pipe would be protected. The temporary drilling casing was hoisted out so that we could fortify the pipes with cement.

The well was bailed by hand for 3 days before doing a yield test to verify the water quantity, which ended up being 52.9 liters per minute at a static water level of 21.5 meters.

With these great results, a stainless steel India MkII pump was installed. Water quality tests show the water is safe for drinking, but the iron levels are slightly elevated. In order to address issues of taste and color, we worked with community members to adopt bio-sand filters that are made of locally available materials.

Our teams tested a few different size filters to determine what would be best. The final model bio-sand filter was constructed using a mold that was welded at the local fitter shop. Cement is then poured into the mold to create a new filter. By distributing the filters and continuing to educate community members, we are confident that the well will continue to meet the water needs of this community.

New Knowledge

The hygiene training was held as a community training, incorporating the entire village.

Training participants

Before any hygiene training, repeated phone calls and visits were made to the committee to help them understand the challenges and lack of sanitation facilities in the community. The findings from our baseline survey were brought to the attention of the water user committee to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training or drilling could commence. When all the necessary and required guidelines were met, then and only then does our team of hygiene trainers go to conduct the training.

Based on the information collected during the baseline survey, the training was organized. During that process a major issue was uncovered - open defecation was a significant problem in this community. Most households did not have a latrine and the one public latrine was not near most families.

So, we scheduled the training to coincide with the upcoming World Toilet Day. The community constructed native toilets for every household. Every household participated in this training and there were some very unique native toilets constructed.

At every stage of the preparation process, there was a continuous flow of communication between the teams and the community people. On the morning of training the teams made their final calls to their contacts and left for the village. The people had already gathered at the venue and the team only needed the boom box and the megaphone to call the other people to the venue.

This community is a very vegetated one and has plenty of options in terms of where the training would have been held. But the team and community people agreed to move the training close to the Mosque under some very shaded mango trees.

Nobody complained of heat because the shade of the trees protected against that. All were seated under a very conducive atmosphere with the shades providing gentle breeze for all to refresh.

Tippy tap construction

Training topics covered included: Handwashing and tippy tap; good and bad hygiene; disease transmission story; worms and parasites; proper care of teeth; proper care of the pump; keeping the water clean; the cost recovery system; dishracks and clotheslines; the importance of toilets; keeping the latrine clean; balanced diets; diarrhea doll; and HIV and AIDS.

Handwashing demonstration

When the training started everyone was quiet. This was a sign that participants wanted to capture every statement made by the instructors and whenever instructors asked them to demonstrate, they were always ready to do that. They were involved with the tippy tap and disease transmission stories.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

February, 2018: Mathem Community Project Underway

Dirty water from the swamp is making people in Mathem Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to provide a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Photos

Project Type

Abundant water is often right under our feet! Beneath the Earth’s surface, rivers called aquifers flow through layers of sediment and rock, providing a constant supply of safe water. For borehole wells, we drill deep into the earth, allowing us to access this water which is naturally filtered and protected from sources of contamination at the surface level. First, we decide where to drill by surveying the area and determining where aquifers are likely to sit. To reach the underground water, our drill rigs plunge through meters (sometimes even hundreds of meters!) of soil, silt, rock, and more. Once the drill finds water, we build a well platform and attach a hand pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around five gallons of water per minute! Learn more here!


Project Sponsor - Pineapple Fund