Project Status

Project Type:  Solar Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 650 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/19/2024

Project Features

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The entire length of the Rotifunk community is lined with contaminated water points that cause serious water-related illnesses. In the wet season, people here have ready access to all the unsafe water they could drink. In the dry season, their options dry up with the water points. Those who can afford it resort to purchasing water whenever they can. Those who can't afford it get sick.

"I am fortunate to have parents that can afford to buy bundles of water," said 17-year-old Kadiatu K. "I make sure it is never wasted. Most of the plastic water bundles are still contaminated because they are not very cared for."

The reason the community's current wells are unsafe is namely their close proximity to latrines. When we surveyed the community's eight wells to see whether one might be good for rehabilitation, we found none of them were up to our standards. We require that a well be at least 30 meters from the nearest latrine, but the farthest distance recorded was 22.6 meters, with the shortest being 8.4 meters. One of our field officers said, "It was really quite disgusting to think people would actually drink water from any of those wells."

Water Street got its name from the three water streams that once ran across the bottom of the community's hill. Over the years, global warming and land sales have absconded with all but one polluted stream. Now, everyone does laundry and bathes in the same place they fetch their water for drinking, and plastic bags float in the water.

"[On] Water Street, a person should not have to suffer for water, but the name is far from the reality on the ground," Kediatu said.

Special groups have been formed by the community to go out and search neighboring communities for safe water every day. While some wait to accomplish all their daily chores until the group returns, others decide they cannot wait and use the local unsafe water instead.

The people who own the community's private wells keep them locked up tight against intruders. So when the public wells dry up, the unlucky people who can't purchase water end up fetching water from the one remaining stream at the end of Water Street, where all the runoff from the people's animals, garbage, and latrines naturally flows.

"It is never easy, especially in the dry season, to fetch water," said 52-year-old trader Sefiatu Wurie. "When people see you coming towards their water well, the immediate reaction is to lock it. After sessions of repeated begging, you might just be allowed to get one or two containers. Never enough for preparing food, let alone for other household chores. I sometimes sacrifice extra money and pay people with wheelbarrows or motorbikes to make sure I have sufficient water in the house. The hardest to get is drinking water, and without money to buy water bundles, I settle for whatever I get."

The health consequences from drinking the water in this community range from mild to severe. Women, men, and children are covered with skin rashes all over their bodies. If left untreated for a long period of time, people's skin will flake off and become discolored. People suffer from typhoid, cholera, and dysentery from drinking unclean water. There are also high instances of malaria from all the stagnant water sources and unhygienic environments.

"I am a little picky about the water my children drink, not much for myself," Sefiatu said.

What we can do:

Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul is dry for a few months every year and needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the community year-round. The drill team will remove the pump, and a hand auger will be lowered inside and powered by a drill team. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a sufficient water column to ensure the well supplies water throughout all seasons.

As the team drills, the casing will be installed, transforming the bottom of this hand-dug well into a borehole. PVC piping will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a set-up that we know will also improve the quality of water.

Solar pump and filter system

This system will use solar as its primary power source but will be backed up by batteries and a small generator. This system is designed to be maintained and repaired when needed with components that can be purchased locally.

This water distribution system will use several methods to purify the water. The water will be pumped from the well using a solar pump into an overhead 5,000-liter storage tank. Once the tank is full, it will be released by valve and then pass through a stainless steel #80 mesh filter. This filter can be cleaned and reused repeatedly. The larger particulates will be removed as the water transfers into a second 5,000-liter storage tank.

The water at this point will pass through two 20-inch bag filters. The first will filter down to ten microns, and the second will filter down to five microns.

The water will then pass through an ultraviolet system for treatment. The ultraviolet treatment has proven to remove 99.9% of bacterial contamination.

The water will be separated into two distribution lines. The first will be made available to the community for general use (washing clothes, cleaning, and bathing). The second line will flow through a sensor that activates a chlorinator. The proper amount of chlorine will be injected into the water. Injecting a small amount of chlorine into the water will disinfect the containers community members use to collect and store water. The free chlorine levels will be below WHO safe standards. This water will be available as drinking water.

Once this plan is implemented, everyone within the community will have access to safe drinking water, even through the dry months.


Our team will offer hygiene and sanitation training sessions 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

September, 2022: Rotifunk Solar Borehole Project Complete!

We are excited to share that there is now a safe, reliable solar borehole well at Rotifunk Community. As a result, 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.

"I lost my husband a few years ago and I was thrown out of the family home by his eldest children," said 59-year-old trader Saffiatu (Saffie) Wurie. "I returned to my community with the help of my [other]children. A year after his death, I suffered a stroke that limited the use of my right leg and arm. I am thankful to have grandchildren that help me with everyday activities."

Saffie celebrates at the dedication ceremony.

"I cannot be any happier for the construction of this solar project," Saffie continued.

"As a mother and grandmother, I saw the need for the availability of safe drinking water in our community and immediately offered a portion of my land to be used to construct the borehole. With limited mobility, having a water source a few steps from [my] door does wonders for my family and me.

Saffie (left) celebrates with a friend.

"I have been surrounded by death for the past few years, with the death of my adult son and a week later my grandson also died. The only option we had as a community was to access drinking water by using the open wells in the community. The community was built with no second thought on the positioning of the latrines, causing the water from these open wells to be unfit for drinking.

"Day after day, men, women, and children are taken to the hospital for treatment of vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. The waste from the market is dumped at our street, causing more chances of illness. Now that I think back, my grandchild that passed away a few weeks ago showed signs of high fever and days later passed away.

"I always pile pressure on my grandchildren to go and search for water. I usually sit outside in anticipation of their return, not knowing if something had happened to them. The passing of my eldest has made me to be more protective of my grandchildren, and every step they take, I am checking to make sure they are not going astray. Now that this water point is fully functional, I can get a nice, clean, and safe cup of water throughout the day and year.

"I know I made a good decision offering my land for the construction of [this] project. Not only am I going to benefit, but I can now get a good night’s sleep knowing my children and other children do not have to travel far to fetch water. I will continuously monitor their school activities to make sure more time is set aside for studying.

"Living in practically a slum community with latrines next to an open well has created challenges for the well-being of our children. As a member of the water user committee, it is my responsibility to make sure this project will be around for the longest time. Now that this project is completed, I will be able to have my children around the house to help me before and after school. I used to struggle a whole lot, especially in the morning when they are scrambling to clean and fetch water before they head out their different ways. Now, very early in the morning, a pot is put on the fire to heat up my water before bathing. At the same time, the other children are busy warming up the rice to eat. I sometimes feel lonely and sad, but this project is going to give me extra time to spend with my children and grandkids."

Kadiatu gets water at the solar tap.

"The completion of this project is one of the best things to have happened to this community," said 17-year-old Kadiatu K. "The Paramount Chief, Councilor, and section chief all have taken an interest in what has happened to the community. As a student, having access to this kind of project in our community, the first of its kind, is a big blessing. I can now get a good night’s sleep and not worry about waking up too early to walk the far distance to fetch water.

"This project has already made a positive impact on my life," Kadiatu continued. "There is nothing more important than drinking safe and clean water. It makes me feel very good about the interest [your staff] take in making sure we get good water continuously. I recently took external exams, and I strongly believe I fared better than I had in the past. I now have more time to study and, as a student, there is no magic in getting good grades except to study very hard.

"Today, I am glad that there is a pump next to my house where I can fetch clean and pure water to drink and to do everything at the house. The pump is now saving my life from getting sick from the contaminated water that I used to drink from unprotected sources."

Kadiatu at the taps.

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including the Paramount Chief, the Section Chief, the District Council, and the Ministry of Water Resources.

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

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 31.2 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 14.1 meters. With these excellent results, we installed a stainless steel pump. Water quality test results showed that this was clean water fit for drinking!

The completed solar kiosk.

We then constructed a solar kiosk to provide piped water to Rotifunk's community members using a submersible pump. This will allow the borehole to serve multiple people at a time, eliminating some of the high demand.

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.

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.

One of the most notable topics during the training was when we discussed what makes an unhealthy versus a healthy community. We discussed how the practice of open defecation hurts an entire community and not just the household in question. One woman spoke of how she refused to eat food served to her when she recently visited a community that lacked latrines.

When we covered safe water and food handling practices, a young lady attending the training pointed out a passing food vendor. This vendor carried her wares atop her head in an open bucket and flies were attracted to the food. The young lady said she pitied whoever bought this woman's food because the flies were likely spreading disease. Her fellow participants clapped following this observation, and our training facilitators reported feeling very proud that the lesson had sunk in so completely.

Participants display how diseases transfer from one person to another.

"Before the hygiene training, any water in the community was good for us if it looked clean," Kadiatu said. "After the training, I became critical of the water that I used for drinking purposes. With this new knowledge, I have impacted good hygiene protocols, more especially in the area of having [a] dish rack in our house, the use of the tippy-tap after using the toilet, [and] keeping my toothbrush in a plastic rubber bottle.

"I am so happy for this hygiene and sanitation training," Kadiatu continued. "I believe this training has helped to save our lives from sicknesses like typhoid, malaria, diarrhea, and [has reminded us] to take worm treatments. I want to thank the team for the good knowledge they have given us. Thank you very much."


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for 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!

March, 2022: Rotifunk, Water Street Hand Pump Serving Community!

A solar-powered pumping and filtration project takes a lot of time, effort, and coordination to reach completion. But once it's completed, it will be so worth it! This community will have a sustainable solution to its water quantity and quality problems.

In the meantime, construction has been completed for the structure that will hold the pump and filtration system.

Until the solar element can be completed, community members can use the temporary hand pump we've installed for their everyday needs.

Hand pump installation in progress.

We'll post an update here as soon as the solar components are complete!

February, 2022: Rotifunk Water Street Solar Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage in Rotifunk drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community 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!

Project Photos

Project Type

Solar water systems use energy from the sun to power a low-maintenance submersible (underground) electric pump. The solar-powered pump is ideal for pulling water from an already-existing source without the input of human energy and for transporting it to a more convenient location. The pump collects water in tanks to serve a larger population. When the user is ready to access the water, all they have to do is visit a public kiosk and turn on the tap!

A Year Later: "I am able to fetch water on time and prepare for school."

September, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Rotifunk Community 6.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Rotifunk Community 6 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!

Kadiatu K., 17, recalled what life was like in Rotifunk Community before her community's solar water project was installed last year.

"The water constraints in this community affected me to the point that I was not punctual in school. This is because the water source I used to fetch water [from] is mainly overcrowded with people. To make matters worse, it even ran dry. This situation made me go to the swamp to fetch water. This situation made me utilize most of the time to fetch water. I barely had enough time to prepare for school. With this new water point, all these constraints are now over," said Kadiatu.

But life is much simpler for Kadiatu and the other students and community members in Rotifunk now.

"This water point has made me go to school on time since I am able to fetch water on time and prepare for school. Also, the new water point has helped me to have enough time to do other domestic activities. This is because I am now able to fetch enough water that we [can] use at home for days. I am now utilizing the remaining time to read my notes after school," shared Kadiatu.

Having ready access to water from the solar well project has made a difference for Kadiatu, allowing her time for studying and dreaming about a better future.

"This water point has helped us achieve drinking clean and safe water. All domestic activities [are] achieved because of this water at our doorstep. Thank God, with the help from you for providing us clean and safe drinking water," she concluded.

Thank you for helping her access clean water and experience water security.

Right now, there are others just like her 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.

Kadiatu carrying clean water home.

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 Rotifunk Community 6 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 Rotifunk Community 6 – 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.