Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/22/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Community Profile

The water source for half of the people living in Gbonkogbonko Village is still the swamp. The first order of business is for most women here is to fetch water from the swamp. A large container of this water is fetched very early in the morning to be used for drinking and cooking that day. The best time to fetch water is very early in the morning because all the dirt and debris will have settled to the bottom.

The community has a well at Kankalay Primary School that we rehabilitated last year, but there are still 846 people who use the open, unsafe swamp to get water because it is closer to their homes.

"As a community elder, I am obligated to do my best and provide for myself and my people. Honestly, I am tired of drinking water from the swamp," said Morlai Kamara.

His granddaughter Memunatu is a 9-year-old primary school student at Kankalay Primary School. During the day she can get water from the well at the school, but she has to rely on the swamp source when she goes home. On the day of our visit, she was not in school due to an infection that caused diarrhea.

"The distance from the school to my house is too far and the distance from my house to the swamp is much closer," she explained.

The quality of the water is poor. The runoff soil from the swamp farming laced with different types of fertilizer is the main contaminant polluting the water supply. People, like Memunatu, contract waterborne diseases from drinking the water.

What we can do:

New Well

We will be drilling this well in Gbonkogbonko Village. This project will relieve the people here of the their water challenges

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 been pushed to open, contaminated well for their water. By drilling this borehole, Gbonkogbonko Village will be provided with plenty of accessible clean drinking water.


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

Community members will learn how to make a handsfree handwashing station called the "tippy-tap." We 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. We will highlight the need to keep latrines clean, among many other topics.

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

Project Updates

February, 2021: Lokomasama, Gbonkogbonko Village Project Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable borehole well at Gbonkogbonko Village in Sierra Leone is already providing clean and safe water to community members and nearby students. People here 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.

"I will not fall sick because of drinking unsafe water, and I will not skip school because of being sick, having a stomachache, or loose frequent stool. I will no longer be late for school in the morning and will not undergo punishment for being late because the water point is here with us in our community," said 10-year-old Adama.

New Well

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

The dedication ceremony was conducted on a Friday morning. The primary school in the village is a Muslim school, and Fridays are off days. The people refrain from doing any labor on Fridays, and it is the best day to schedule a dedication. Even though they were off for the day, the school children came to be part of the dedication.

The village is more than two miles long, and some of the students and teachers live at the end of the village where there was no water well until now. The Village Headman, Regent Chief, Councilor, and primary school Head Master were all in attendance for the handing over ceremony. The people sang and praised the great work to provide water for this deprived community with no strings attached.

"I am a wife and mother. I have been going through many constraints in fetching water for drinking and other domestic purposes because my children are young and cannot walk to the old water source to fetch water. The only other functioning water well is located at the village's primary school, which is more than a mile away from our house. I am saying a very big thanks for the support in helping us have this water point in our community," said Isatu Kamara, a trader from the community.

"I can now use my time and energy to care for my family and carry on with my business. I always tend to my garden very early in the morning with no time to spare for getting my children ready for school. With water now readily available in the village, I can easily prepare my cakes and donuts, sell in the community and school, and be back before noontime."

The Process

The drill team arrived at the site the day before drilling began. They set up their tents and stored their materials as they got ready to work the next day. The community arranged to feed the team while they worked and offered any other support they needed for the following three days.

Two pits were dug next to the drill rig, one for the drill’s water supply and another for what is pulled out of the borehole. In some cases, we order a private supplier to deliver the water for drilling since water access is already a struggle.

Day one of drilling starts by filling the two pits with water mixed with bentonite. A four-inch carbide-tipped bit is fixed to the five-foot-long drill stem. The mud pump starts to supply water to the drill rig, and the drilling begins. The team takes a material sample after every five-foot length of drill stem is put into the hole. The bags were labeled and reviewed later to determine the aquifer locations.

On the second day of drilling, the team expands the hole and clears it of mud. The team reached a total depth of 21 meters.

The team forcefully pumps clean water into the well to clear out any mud and debris from drilling. After, the screened pipe is protected by adding a filter pack. The team hoists the temporary drilling casing to fortify the pipes with cement.

The well is bailed by hand for three days before conducting a yield test to verify the water quantity. This well's yield was 21 liters per minute, at a static water level of 12 meters.

With these excellent results, a stainless steel India MkII pump was installed. Water quality tests show that this is clean water fit for drinking!

New Knowledge

The village of Gbonkokabongo is more than two miles in length. A section of the surveyed population was elected to be part of the water user committee. The water user committee was notified weeks in advance of our intention to hold a hygiene training.

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

The Headman for that section of the village was notified along with the Councilor of that Ward, Paul Dickson Kamara. The Councilor, Headman, and the nine-member committee were called and received individual visits to ensure each household in the community sent a representative to the training.

We conducted three consecutive days of training at a community member's home. Because the crowd that showed up for the training was more extensive than expected, we had to ask some of the younger children to return home to be sure we met loal COVID-19 safety guidelines. We also asked all participants to wash their hands before taking their seat.

Tippy tap construction

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps; good and bad hygiene; disease transmission and prevention; worms and parasites; proper care of teeth; adequate care of the pump; keeping the water clean; the cost recovery system; dish racks and clotheslines; the importance of toilets; keeping the latrine clean; balanced diets; the diarrhea doll; and HIV and AIDS.

Tippy taps are easy to make and economical tools. In this part of Sierra Leone, one-gallon containers are required and therefore hold significance when palm oil is being harvested. The community members weighed what was more important, providing a one-gallon container for a tippy tap or storing palm oil?

Many people opted to provide a container to make a tippy tap. Their lives and their families lives depended on it to ensure that proper and frequent handwashing is practiced in the village. This is because the nearest clinic is more than ten miles away from this village, so every precaution that needs to be taken to prevent or reduce the number of visits to the clinic should and must be taken, they said.

"The training was valuable to me in two different ways. The first way is learning the dangers and damages drinking contaminated water has on our lives. The food and water we drink, if contaminated, will have a detrimental effect on our health," shared Pa Morlai Kamara, Chair of the water user committee.

"The second way the training is valuable to me is knowing the dangers of open defecation by our children. The children are not big enough to use the latrine. In a village such as this, the children are usually sent under the banana trees to defecate. With chickens, goats, dogs, and sheep running loose in the community, we stand a great chance of having these animals put their mouths or beaks into food, contaminating the whole food. The new knowledge is going to make us more careful about our water supply."

Our teams also spent time sensitizing on the COVID-19 pandemic. We touched on topics including mask-wearing, physical distancing, handwashing, and more.

"The training was very valuable to me through the teachings of how to prevent contracting the coronavirus. Denial had cost the lives of many people during the Ebola epidemic. The same denial has cost the lives of many people during the coronavirus pandemic," said Isatu Kamara.

"This new knowledge is going to have a positive impact in my life by making me change my ways of interacting with other people in the village. As a further precaution in making sure I change my behavior...I have agreed to help my family by making sure there is a clean bucket of water and soap waiting for everyone before entering the house."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2021: Lokomasama, Gbonkogbonko Village project underway!

Community members in Gbonkogbonko Village do not have a reliable source for water. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point in the community 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 news of success!

Project Videos

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!

A Year Later: Entire Community Has Access to Water!

February, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Gbonkogbonko Community in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Aminata. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Gbonkogbonko Community.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gbonkogbonko Community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Aminata K., 15, shared her strong feelings about suffering without access to clean, safe water before her community installed a new well last year. She said, "I hated those days in my life as a child where one had to wake up very early in the morning to go to the swamp to fetch water before going to school and also in the evening after school. I had to do the same thing every day. [It] was a challenging and painful moment for me. At some point, I hated being born in this village, but I had no choice and nowhere else to go stay."

But since the new well, she and her community have access to safe, clean water, and she feels very differently. "Now, I am grateful and jubilant having this facility completed in my community. The water is safe and available at all times, and it is at the center of the town, which everyone can access."

Aminata (on the left with blue headscarf) with community members at the well.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gbonkogbonko Community maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Gbonkogbonko Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


1 individual donor(s)