The only source of water for the 131 people of Kayrefay is a stream in the local swamp.
"The first time I went [to] see the source of water this community [is] drinking from, I was shocked," said our field officer, Alie. "It is not safe to drink because they do not chlorinate the water and do not test it. Truly, it is not safe to drink. There are [a] lot of contaminants in the water, such as spirogyra (algae), pebbles, [and] sludge. I [would] not drink such water."
Community members reported cases of typhoid and dysentery when drinking the water and itchy rashes when bathing with it.
"The water becomes dirty after [a] few people have fetched water from the stream," said 35-year-old trader Fatmata Kamara (shown above bringing water home from the swamp). "At that time, I have to wait before fetching clean water to my house. This also wastes my time to trade. The dirty water is not good for drinking. I fetch it to drink because there is no clean water that I can easily fetch. I know that it is not good for my health to drink dirty water, but I have no choice."
Some people in the village live a 30-minute walk from the swamp, which makes getting enough water for anything especially difficult and time-consuming. But even for those closest to the water source, the trip is not easy — the path to the swamp is hilly, rocky, and highly vegetated, which exhausts the women and children responsible for fetching water and frightens them, as snakes and other wildlife lie in wait for the unwary.
"I become worried every day when my children go to fetch water from the stream," Fatmata said. "They walk through a bush road to the stream to fetch water. It is risky because of poisonous animals like snakes, which can easily bite people."
Every dry season, water gets scarce, and the little water that remains in the swamp pool turns "milky." So community members deepen the swamp pool in an effort to get more water from underground. But this is only a temporary measure - the next dry season, women will line up along the sides of the pool, waiting for water to filter up through the ground so they can collect any quantity for their use at home.
"It is very difficult to fetch water in this village," said Fatmata. "It becomes more difficult during the dry season when there is [a] low water level in the stream."
"Life in this village is not easy for me because of the challenges fetching water," said 15-year-old Maseray K (shown below). "During the dry season, I could not sleep 'til daybreak because I need to wake up very early in the morning to rush to the stream to fetch water. If I delay going to the stream, it will be hard for me to fetch clean water. The water [will] be dirty after [a] few people had fetched water from the stream, especially in the morning."
Maseray's family makes palm oil as their main source of livelihood. But as the water levels in the swamp continue to decrease, this has become increasingly burdensome, and consequently, her household income reduces.
"I fetch water after school to process palm oil," Maseray explained. "During the weekend, I spend more of my time fetching water to process palm oil. It has always been very difficult for me to fetch water for palm oil production. Carrying water on my head from the far stream is not easy, especially when I have to make more trips. The time and energy that I use to fetch water is too much for me. I become tired after fetching water all day to process palm oil. I cannot read my school notes at night after I have fetched many trips."
With a source of reliable, safe water right in Kayrefay, the time people spend collecting water will reduce. Everyday tasks like laundry, dishes, and bathing will be easier, and will hopefully be completed more often. After this change, life will hopefully improve for Kayrefay's people.
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, 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.