The source of drinking water for the 168 people of Mathaineh Village is water they can collect from a dug well near the swamp. The distance is far, and the road is rough and bushy, making access challenging. The long distance to the swamp has always been the reason for this community's water shortage.
The dug well is really just a hole with logs laid across the opening that is exposed to contamination by people, animals, leaves, and water runoff. The area is surrounded by trees and near the sea and the same place where community members do their farming activities and laundry.
Farmer Isatu Bangura, 37, seen below said, "The water crisis in Mathaineh community is a big burden on me. I have so many uses of water every day. I need water to cook, bathe, launder clothes, and to drink."
She continued, "We only have one well at the swamp where everyone in this community goes to fetch water every day. This water source is not easy to reach, the distance is far, and the road is rough to walk especially when carrying water."
"During the dry season, it becomes more difficult to get water from the main water source. The water quickly becomes dirty because of the low water level. This makes it hard for me to get clean water to drink," said Isatu. "I have to go down [to] the well early in the morning to fetch drinking water."
Not only is it difficult for Isatu to find sufficient drinking water she also needs water for her livelihood. "During the dry season, it becomes hard to get water to process palm oil. Palm oil processing requires [a lot of] water. I had to go around the entire swamp area in search of water to process my palm oil, which I sell to provide income for our livelihood," said Isatu.
During the rainy season, the area near the swamp floods, and it becomes impossible to access until the season is over. The only other water the community has is the rainwater they can collect. They consistently face water shortages, especially when the rain is not regular.
During the dry season, the water in the swamp becomes salty because of its proximity to the sea, making it difficult to use for purposes like drinking, bathing, and laundering clothes. The amount of available water also reduces due to the heat of the season.
"During the rainy season, I drink from the rainwater. When there is no rain, there is a shortage of drinking water for me," said Rugiatu K., 16, who is shown collecting water from the well in the photo above. "My responsibility to bring water for the family always needs more time and the distance to my school is about three miles. Every day, I must trek about six miles to and from school. After arriving home from school, I have to fetch water for cooking and prepare everything to start cooking food."
When water cannot be found, people are forced to buy water. But the majority of people cannot afford the expense to purchase and transport water from Borope, a village about ten miles away.
The people of Mathaineh Village see themselves as a family and easily make decisions together. They were unified and quickly agreed on a proposed site for the new well that will benefit the entire community.
The new well will reduce the long distance community members have to walk and the amount of energy they expend to fetch water. And, most importantly, it will help protect them from the dangers of drinking contaminated water.
What we can do:
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, Mathaineh and 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.