Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 256 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/22/2023

Project Features

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If Kankalay Islamic School students are lucky, they can fetch water from the nearby clinic's borehole well. But the clinic serves ten different villages, so it has created restrictions on the water use to make sure the water is mainly used by patients and for the hospital staff.

So, most days, students fetch water from the swamp.

"The only water source that is readily available to the students is the open water source at the swamp," said teacher, Patrick Kanu. "The Ministry of Educations forbids teachers from sending students out of the school compound for any reason. There are so many dangers that are potential threats for the students on their way to the swamp. We are risking our jobs simply by sending the students to fetch water."

The swamp area is used to farm wet crops like rice, which requires the use of fertilizer. Fertilizer from the crops seeps into the water source. The swamp is also shared with worms, tadpoles, and sometimes snakes. Wet grass blankets the area, soaking the socks of the children sent to fetch water here: just another reason they hate fetching water.

"I prefer going to the clinic to fetch water, but if it has to do with the swamp, I always find an excuse not to go," said 12-year-old student, Zainab. "I am quick to volunteer to fetch water at the clinic so I will not be called again when it is time to fetch at the swamp."

The consequences of drinking this water are dire. In Benkia community, the child mortality rate is very high. The most reported cases range from simple stomachaches to diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, and worms/parasites. Children can be seen with bloated stomachs and reddish, thinning hair—signs of worm/parasite infestation or malnutrition.

"I have recently relocated to the community as a teacher," Patrick said. "Adjusting to the water has created a problem for my stomach."

The severe water shortage means things like proper hygiene and sanitation are impossible for the school, which only increases the likelihood of illness. The entire school compound has a lingering bad odor. The school latrine has no handwashing stations.

With a source of reliable, safe water nearby, the students at Kankalay Islamic Primary School will be happier and healthier.

What we can do:

New Well

Where we will be drilling is centrally located and will relieve many people of the long journey to fetch water and the challenge of accessing clean water.

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.

By drilling this borehole, the surrounding 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.

Project Updates

June, 2022: Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School Borehole Well Complete!

We are excited to share that there is now a safe, reliable borehole well at Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School. As a result, the students and community members no longer 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.

When we visited the school, we caught up with both people we interviewed for our first visit: 12-year-old student Zainab S. and teacher Patrick Kanu.

"Before, I faced water challenges in my school," Zainab said. "I found it hard to get water in school, [and] also difficult to get swamp water because the swamp water [is] located far from the school, and it is a bushy road. The stream water is not pure to drink."

Zainab, in the black and white headscarf, splashes water at the well with other students.

"During the school session, I left class [to] go for water, which affected my learning. Sometimes I missed most of the classes because I [was] out of the school going for water. But today, I am happy for this new well in my school. I say thanks to Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project."

Now that the school has water on school grounds, Zainab is looking toward the future.

"I will be punctual in school, and I will not miss any lessons anymore," Zainab said. "I will pay more concentration in class, and I will never go out of [the] school compound in search of water."

43-year-old teacher Patrick Kanu shares Zainab's positive outlook. "Today, I feel relief because a new water well is now in my school compound," he said.

Patrick, in the right of the front row, splashes water with other teachers.

"Before, there was a serious problem to get access to water. The situation looked so terrible, and it was hard for me to get safe water. Also, [the] school pupils would not get access to safe water to drink. Now, a new water well is in my school compound which is safe and sustainable thanks to Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project."

Patrick collects water from the new well.

"With the help of this new water well in my school, all the constraints or challenges [we] used to face in my school will be [over], like truancy of pupils," Patrick concluded. "The children will be punctual in school. Personal hygiene would be practiced completely, also handwashing as well. Now I will complete the learning syllabus."

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including representatives from the Port Loko District Council, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the local health center.

Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to this water project and reminding the staff and students to take good care of it. Then, Zainab and Patrick made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Students and teachers celebrate at the well.

New Well

The drill team arrived the day before beginning work. They set up camp and unpacked all their tools and supplies to prepare for drilling the next day. The community provided space for the team to store their belongings and meals for the duration of their stay. The following day, work began.

Our team dug two pits next to the drill rig, one for the drill’s water supply and another for what the drill pulls out of the borehole. In some cases, we order a private supplier to deliver the water for drilling since water access is already challenging.

Day one of drilling began as the team mixed water with bentonite, an absorbent clay, in the two dug pits. Next, the team fixed a four-inch carbide-tipped bit to the five-foot-long drill stem. They started the mud pump to supply water to the drill rig so that drilling could begin!

After putting each five-foot length of drill stem into the hole, the team took material samples. We labeled the bags to review them later and determine the aquifer locations.

On the second day of drilling, the team expanded the hole and cleared it of mud. After reaching a total depth of 13 meters, the team forcefully pumped clean water into the well to remove any dirt and debris from the drilling process. We then protected the screened pipe by adding a filter pack. The team hoisted the temporary drilling casing to fortify the pipes with cement.

Next, we bailed the well by hand for three days before conducting a yield test to verify the water quantity. This well has a static water level of ten meters. With these excellent results, we installed a stainless steel pump. Water quality test results showed that this wais clean water fit for drinking!

Bailing the well.

New Knowledge

Before conducting any hygiene training, we called and visited the local water user committee to understand the community’s challenges and lack of sanitation facilities. We shared the findings from our discussions with the committee members to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training began. For example, we identified households without handwashing stations or ones that may need to repair their latrines. With this information, community members worked together to improve hygiene and sanitation at home.

After this preparatory period, we scheduled a time when members from each household using the water point could attend a three-day hygiene and sanitation training. We then dispatched our teams to the agreed-upon location to hold the meeting.

Attendance at Benkia Kankalay was impressive, with 100% of teachers and students attending each of the training days.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, disease transmission and prevention, COVID-19, worms and parasites, proper dental hygiene, proper care of the well's pump, keeping the water clean, the cost recovery system, the importance of using dish racks and clotheslines, the importance of toilets, keeping latrines clean, balanced diets, the diarrhea doll, and HIV and AIDS.

Students' favorite topic was handwashing and learning how to construct tippy-taps, which are handwashing stations made from affordable, locally available materials. Students were eager to be the ones doing the demonstrations, and many of them exclaimed that they would help their families construct tippy-taps at home as well.

Students crowd around one of the new tippy-taps.

Another memorable topic was diarrhea, which we demonstrate using a doll as a visual aid. Students said they never knew the cause of diarrhea, with one girl saying she thought diarrhea was caused by eating too much. We also instructed students on how to mix Oral Rehydration Salts using water, salt, and sugar. This solution can help rehydrate someone who has been suffering from diarrhea and potentially save their life, which was really impressive to the students and teachers alike.

The diarrhea doll in action.

"I will really make good use of the new knowledge I received from the training," Patrick said.

"This new knowledge has impacted my life, especially in how one can get skin diseases by drying clothes on the grass or ground, and how we can get worms by walking barefoot. All these things have impacted my bad hygiene practices. I will continue to teach my pupils about hygiene and I will try to [make] it mandatory for teachers to teach the pupils. I want to thank the team for the good talks on how we should take care of our food and environment."

Patrick shows students the (fake!) hookworms we use during the training.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our partners, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the well, community members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. We have an ongoing commitment to walk with each community, cooperatively problem-solving when they face challenges of any kind: with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. With all these components together, we strive to ensure enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2022: Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School Borehole Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

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

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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: Fewer Water-Related Illnesses!

June, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Benkia Kankalay Islamic School in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Alpha. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School 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!

Alpha C., 12, recalled what life was like at Benkia Kankalay Islamic School before his school’s well was implemented last year.

"Before having clean and safe drinking water, it was difficult for us pupils, and it [was] a must to fetch water every morning for drinking and to use at the school latrines before we could sit in the class for teaching," said Alpha. "The water source we were fetching water from to drink was not clean and safe. Sometimes, we were sick from water sicknesses unless our parents took us to the hospital to seek treatment."

But life is less difficult for Alpha and the other students at Benkia Kankalay Islamic School now.

"We no more go in search of water. We can drink clean and safe water from this water point provided by you. We can wash our hands after eating and using the toilet. Also, we cannot miss any teaching, and we have [time] to play football," said Alpha.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Alpha, allowing him more time to do what he enjoys.

"This water point has helped to reduce the chances of contracting water sicknesses. Thank you for providing us [with] clean and safe drinking water," Alpha concluded.

Thank you for helping Alpha access clean water and regain his health by drinking water that doesn't make him sick.

Right now, there are others just like him in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can’t wait to introduce you to the next person you’ll help.

Alpha in front of 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 Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School 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 Benkia Kankalay Islamic Primary School – 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.


Project Sponsor - Wakillah