Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last year. In the middle of this, we have remained more committed than ever to the people of Sierra Leone through a service and support program that focuses on keeping water flowing at approximately 100 previously installed projects. And, as you know, we are also providing new water access for communities - all made possible by your support. Our teams have been brave and selfless - and we are so proud of them.
Very recently, Ebola has made a resurgence in our area of operation. Our team was providing service to a previously installed water point at a large regional hospital, and returned the next morning to find the entire area under quarantine. Unfortunately, this meant that many of our tools were also under quarantine. This, along with restoring some water points post-quarantine, has led to reasonable delays in our program. We are very happy, after some delays, to bring this report to you. We thank you for your patience.
We are in weekly contact with our team in Sierra Leone, and everyone is safe. The entire team continues to express their gratitude for your support of communities in Sierra Leone, and we can’t wait to celebrate safe water together!
COMMUNITY BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Sanda (San-dah) is a rural community located in Lungi, Sierra Leone. It is a farming community located across a small stream from the Tintifor, Wasaya, Modia area where The Water Project has done previous projects. Sanda has no wells of any kind. The community fetches their water from the nearby stream. Opposite this stream is a Water Works project which was never completed. That project was started years ago by a company from India, which was supposed to supply all of Lungi with piped water. Unfortunately, the project didn’t get very far. They installed taps in Sanda but no water has ever come from these taps. Since the electrical poles also stop on the other side of the stream, this area has no access to electricity.
When doing the baseline survey, we came across 40 houses with 37 households. There are a total of 217 people who live in the community, with 109 of them being children and 108 of them being adults. The baseline survey shows that there are no hand-washing stations, no rubbish pits, no drying racks, and no clean water containers. Many people have clotheslines and some have latrines. The small stream is about a half hour’s walk from most households. This is also the same stream that people use to wash their clothes, bodies, motorcycles, and other vehicles. The stream runs alongside the swamp where they grow their rice and other vegetables.
There is one school in the community. It is constructed out of mud blocks plastered with cement. It is run by the United Methodist Church, putting Pastor George in charge. The school serves grades 1-3. They have also been able to secure a similar building in the community for use next year. The pastor also secured a plot of land to build an actual school that will serve as their permanent structure once future funds are secure. That land is located on the road to Bormodia, which is another rural village that TWP has targeted for a borehole. Pastor George is a very active pastor in the community of Lungi. He is a member of the Lungi Evangelical Fellowship (LEF), a group of pastors that we work with. We felt very encouraged that he had a strong presence in this community. The school has no toilets, and we didn’t see any evidence of even a native toilet for the school children to use. Presently, the school is out on break due to the rainy season. Classes are scheduled to resume 31 August. At that point, we will be able to get pictures of the students in the classrooms and do a hygiene training with the teachers. If at all possible, we would like to get the teachers together before school starts so tippy taps are in place when students return. These tippy taps provide a hands free way to wash hands, since they are operated by a foot lever that controls water poured from a container. This is much more effective than basins and hand-washing buckets, though UNICEF has already provided veronica buckets to most schools in Sierra Leone to promote hand-washing. They have also provided thermometers so that temperatures can be monitored for Ebola.
There is one mosque in the community. We’re told that Pastor George has held church services at the school, though we have not had an opportunity to connect with him to witness his exact involvement in the community.
The community grumbled at having to give information for the baseline survey, though they were excited about the prospect of having a borehole for safe drinking water. They said that many people have come out to survey their area. Villagers have given their names and information, but nothing has ever come of these surveys. They feel like all they have received so far are false promises.
There will be several hygiene trainings held in this community. We will focus on making tippy taps so that every household has a hand-washing station. We will work with people to build dish-drying racks. Since this is an area that is out in the bush, we should have easy access to bamboo. We will also discuss the importance of rubbish pits. We will discuss keeping the drinking water safe, which will encompass regularly washing containers, keeping containers up off the ground, and proper drinking water storage.
In addition, we will work with Pastor George to show the Jesus film at the completion of the borehole. Presently, Sierra Leone is still under a State of Emergency and there is a ban on public gatherings, so we will need to be very careful how we present our hygiene trainings and other such gatherings.
A Water User Committee will be formed and a Constitution for Water and Sanitation will be signed by the committee as we develop this project.
PRE-BOREHOLE: A Water User Committee was formed and a Constitution for Water and Sanitation was signed by the committee. We explained what the expectations were for each household contributing a water user fee and for maintaining the well site. We also discussed the need for proper recordkeeping. Once the community has enough money, a bank account will be opened with the three required signatures needed for withdrawing. The committee settled on a monthly fee of Le1,000 per household.
We discussed locations for the well site. As we walked through the village looking for a central location, there was one area which would have been perfect, but the landowner was not around and there was no way to contact them. One community member came forward and took us to a piece of land across the street and down two houses next to the mosque. We gathered the community together with the Headman and the Section Chief to discuss this new location. It was then agreed upon by the community. The project began with a dedication to God using both Christian and Muslim prayer. There was singing and dancing with great excitement in the air. The community expressed their appreciation; some members of the community had discussed how there had always been promises for water but no one ever came through and delivered it for them. They have suffered greatly and thus were very happy with this development.
The day the team showed up with the rig and all their equipment to drill the well, some community members came forward and told the team that the drilling site was actually a graveyard. Everything stopped. The Section Chief was called and a meeting was held a few days later with the Section Chief, Headman, Imam, and village elders. The seriousness of this development was discussed. We expressed our empathy for their situation and our understanding of the desperation they were feeling. They felt that if they could not find a location quickly, we would leave them without constructing the well. We ensured that we are not like that. We expressed a heartfelt desire to help, saying that we believe in truth. We expressed our love for them through Jesus Christ and expressed how the Word of God states that Jesus will never leave anyone nor forsake them. As ambassadors for Jesus Christ, we will not abandon them either. They felt relieved, and we were finally able to decide on another location across the street and down from the first lot. We prayed over the new site and for unity between community members and team, that God would be glorified through the drilling of this well and that the team would find sweet, clean water for the people of this community.
BOREHOLE: Because of the confusion over the well site, monsoon rains and heavy flooding, and a busy Section Chief, this project was delayed a bit. The team got set up and began drilling on September 22, 2015. Again there was great excitement! Children kept sneaking out of their classrooms to see what was going on. There was good community participation with keeping the water pits full, feeding the team, and providing security.
The well was drilled to a total depth of 29 meters. There were no obstacles during drilling. The first water was met between 9 and 15 meters and again between 24.5 and 29 meters. The team began to hit black sand at the 29 meter point. The screens were set at the depths listed. The sanitary seal was done 4 meters from the surface. The borehole diameter is 8 inches. The community worked with a volunteer we had trained on clearing wells by hand. This normally requires a bit of manpower and can take anywhere from three to five days. After the well was cleared, the yield testing was done. The well yielded 15 gallons of water per minute using an electric submersible pump, holding a static level of 12.5 meters below ground. Water quality testing done by the Ministry of Water Resources showed the water is safe for consumption!
HYGIENE TRAINING: We use a Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training (PHAST) model. The hygiene training addressed sanitation, disease transmission, good and bad hygiene, and how to construct a tippy tap to properly wash hands. The community was very happy with this training, and plans to construct their own tippy taps. People were open to constructing latrines when the dry season arrives. We recommended these facilities first be built at the school, and will continue to follow up with the community. The ladies were singing and dancing by the end of training, and promised to put hygiene measures in place. Some of the teachers from the school brought their students out to attend training and said they would talk about it further in the classroom.
The participants said that another NGO came to the community in order to pass out hand-washing buckets, but never held any sort of training. They expressed their gratefulness and that they felt like their lives have really been saved.
During the hygiene training, the ladies told the trainer that about two years ago The Water Works installed a tap, but since that day no water has ever come out. They have had to fetch water from the stream where people was their clothes, bodies, motorcycles and other vehicles. This is also a place where people fetch water for gardens that run alongside the stream. It's been such a depressing situation for the community, and they felt abandoned. As a community, they had joined together to pray and fast for a water well, and then we came to their aid! At first they couldn't believe it. But now, they know that God has really blessed them.
EVANGELISM: The community really experienced the love and grace of God after the first well site didn't work out. The locals thought we might abandon them and leave them drinking from the stream. Instead, we talked at length about how Jesus never leaves nor forsakes us, and how as Christ followers, that is also expected of us. We are called to love our neighbor. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was presented at the well dedication. We will work with Pastor George of the UMC Church to have him show the Jesus Film to the community. We will provide the equipment, and the pastor will present the film. We need to wait a while until it stops consistently raining in the evenings.
INTERVIEWS: Interviews were conducted with two community members, one male and one female.
1. Amara Bangura Occupation: Farmer Sex: Male
I am very happy about what The Water Project and Mariatu's Hope have done for us and we will continue to pray for the team. Let God guide and protect them and let them not stop their plan they have for our country. Since I was born in this village, this is the first big help that has been done for us ever since. May God continue to provide more for them. The water tastes fine. We are really enjoying it.
2. Zainab Kamara Occupation: Farmer and Trader Sex: Female
I can say you people have free us in person because we was drinking dirty water but now you have provided safe drinking water for us and our children. I am thanking The Water Project and Mariatu's Hope for giving our children a new life and improve their standard of living. May God guide and protect Mariatu's Hope and the sponsors.
FOLLOW-UP FOR MONITORING AND EVALUATION: A January follow-up is scheduled for this community. We encouraged the community to keep good records and to document the water user fees. In January, the Monitoring and Evaluation team will visit to make sure the pump is still working fine and that there are no other complications. The committee was given a phone number to contact Mariatu's Hope if there are any problems between now and January. We have every confidence that this well will be a good source of safe drinking water for the community.
Thank you for partnering with this community to make safe water a reality! This was not possible without you.