Upon entering Matong village, the first thing our team saw was a school. The school has a large and bare playing field where children play soccer. As one continues down the road, houses line both sides. Most of the 750 people here make a living as farmers. The plots of land and extensive gardens are traditionally inherited from father to son. At the center of Matong is the community mosque.
Parents and children spend their free time sitting under large trees, enjoying the cool breeze. The hot and humid African sun prevents people from being indoors during the day. The hot roofing material increases the temperature by at least ten degrees.
It was the start of the harvest season during our visit, and there was plenty of food available. At this time of the year, children and adults sit with a bucket filled with different mangoes, find a cool area and eat a dozen or two.
The primary water source, which happens to be a hand-dug well with a hand pump, was dug in the 1980s. The area around the well is filled with mud. Large stones are on the ground where they stand as they fetch water and another stone to place the container.
Since the well is not properly maintained, it is open to contamination. The health consequences of drinking water from the well include contracting waterborne diseases like typhoid, dysentery, cholera, diarrhea, worms, and parasites.
"Ever since the only hand-dug well was constructed, there has been nobody else to assist us with another one until now. I wish there is something I could have done to construct another well in the village, but my choices are limited," said Town Chief Alimamy Sillah.
The village is more than a mile long, and accessing the only protected water point in the town is a burden for most people who live in the lower part of the village. Walking the distance of almost a mile to acquire water sometimes is skipped and resort to using water from the scoop hole.
"The only time I can handle the long lines is when I need water for drinking. Under no circumstances am I to fetch drinking water from the scoop hole. That rule helps me a lot because I easily go around the back of our house and fetch water, not worry about being late to school. My father has a bicycle, and it helps me a lot when I have to fetch water from the hand-dug well," shared Musa K, a 12-year-old boy who lives in the village.
The scoop hole is contaminated, with dirt, fertilizer, and soil runoff contributing to the contamination. Like the well, the people who drink water from the scoop holes are exposed to waterborne diseases.
What we can do:
We will be drilling this well at the central mosque in Matong Village. It is centrally located and will relieve many people of the long journey to fetch water. This project will relieve the people here of 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, Tholmossor Community 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 hands-free 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 restrooms clean, among many other topics.
This training 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 in solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.