As you know, Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last year. In the middle of this, we’ve 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’re also providing new water access for communities- made possible because of 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 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!
This is a great school in a great village. There are 546 students who attend the school of which 300 are girls and 246 are boys. There are 200 people in the community. Of that number, 86 are children and 114 are adults. There are 20 households, of which the majority are constructed from a mixture of cement and mud blocks. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
This area is a step up from a rural village, but there are few open water wells in the community. The majority of the community, and presently the students, go to the nearby stream to fetch their water. More than three hours per day is spent collecting water.
Some people have clotheslines, but still the practice of drying clothes on the ground is prominent. Half have dish racks. There is open defecation in this community being practiced by more than half of the population, although a few have a pit latrine. People say they do understand about the importance of hand-washing, though none have a designated hand-washing station. Nearly all say they have clean water containers and that they store them up off of the ground. This will be confirmed and discussed during the hygiene training.
The school's water well was first rehabilitated by us in 2008. Additional casing was added. Two years later, we were able to construct pour-flush latrines for them with hand-washing stations inside via a sink with faucet. Two years ago, the well began drying up and sand was beginning to break through the sides of the well walls. We've cleared the well several times since. This past year, the well went dry again. When we went to inspect the well, we found the walls of the well had collapsed, making it very dangerous to send a digger down. The well is also very narrow and to make additional casing is just not an option anymore. The school has been very patient and has been forced to use the stream instead. We've decided to put the pump back on the well so that the school children will not have to travel to the stream, even though the insides have collapsed. Once the new borehole is drilled, the hand-dug well will be sealed up and condemned.
The Section Chief, Pa Alimamay Kargbo was very excited about the prospect of getting this well drilled and is eager to work with us. He is an effective Section Chief; during Ebola, there were no cases in this one section of Lungi. They are the only section that can boast of this accomplishment.
Committees and Training:
Once a site is chosen, we will be meeting with the school and community to form a water user committee to write a constitution signed by all committee members concerning use of the well. Having a water user committee or Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) committee is important for the community. This will ensure that the well and the hand pump are maintained.
We use a Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training (PHAST) model. When we constructed the sanitation project years ago, we formed a Child Health Club at this school and trained the teachers. Each year, we have held refresher training except for this last year when the school did not re-open. We are very excited to have this opportunity to come in and offer the refresher training for teachers. They have always been very hardworking when it comes to good hygiene. It should be noted that upon our initial visit to this school, although the well wasn't working, there was water in the toilets and there was soap for washing hands. There was also a brush to clean the toilets. We don't always find this when we show up unannounced. We are so excited about this. It shows that the teachers have really learned about good hygiene!
In addition to doing a refresher training of teachers, we will bring out some of the children from the Child Health Club and hold several hygiene training sessions in the community. We like to introduce these children as Agents of Change. They are the now and the future of this community and we like to have them promote good hygiene along with the WASH committee. The school's Child Health Club has 50 members and five teachers are actively involved.
During our first meeting with the community, we discussed the need for the school and community to come together and form a Water User Committee. We gave them a Constitution for Water and Sanitation which lists guidelines for establishing a well-balanced group. We encouraged both school leaders and students to participate, especially students from the Child Health Club. We also suggested that the school collect a water user fee to save for future maintenance costs. Once we gave our advice, we chose not to attend the actual election and rule-making meeting. Instead, we desire for the community and school to take ownership of their well. They are what makes this project sustainable.
Everyone was excited for drilling to begin. In fact, students were so excited that staff couldn't keep them in the classroom. Teachers decided to let their students leave in shifts to watch construction take place.
The well was drilled with a LS200 portable drill rig. The drilling met no challenges, encountering only soil, clay, sand, and light gravel. The final depth was set at 27.5 meters. Then, we found some members of the community willing to help our team bale and develop the well. Yield tests revealed that this is an excellent well, pumping 13.4 gallons per minute with an electronic submersible pump. Though community members will have to pump water by hand, this yield proves that there will be an accessible and adequate water supply.
An India Mark II hand pump with stainless steel rising main was installed. The well was shock chlorinated at 200 ppm and the initial report from the Ministry of Water resources is that the water is safe for consumption. We are awaiting the formal report.
We held the refresher course for teachers at the school, which attracted a total of 12 participants. Instead of doing the training with our trainer teaching, we presented the lessons and asked each teacher to pick a lesson. We had them teach their lesson to the rest of the group. After each lesson, we made any corrections that needed to be made. The teachers did a fantastic job!
They even remembered the "SHOWD Questions" and brought them out for each lesson. SHOWD represents the following: S- What do you See (or who)? H- What is Happening? What is the problem? O- Does this happen in Our school/community? W - Why does this happen? D - What are you going to Do about it?
Our trainer observed the teachers in the classrooms doing practical training with the students. The teachers said they were really thankful for this opportunity to not only receive a borehole water well, but to have this hygiene training refresher course.
The school has pour flush latrines that were constructed in 2010. There are three rooms for boys, three rooms for girls and two rooms for teachers. They are in good condition, though the clear zinc panels need to be replaced with solid zinc per request from of the school. Some of the taps also need to be replaced. Even though the well has been non-functional, there was still water present in the toilets, a scrub brush for cleaning, and soap available for hand-washing. We were very happy with these findings during our unannounced visit. The latrines get cleaned weekly, every Friday. This is a very good school and they have been good stewards with what God has placed in their hands.
Our donor is very receptive to our Monitoring, Evaluation and Resolution program and has agreed to sponsor these repairs. Thus the school will not only have a fully functioning new well, but also a refreshed sanitation facility. We thank God for partners who believe in sustainability.
Name: Mamusu Kargbo Gender: Female Age: 13 years Occupation: Student
As for me, I can say a lot about Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project because they've done a lot to help us in our village "Mahera". It is the only NGO that keeps its promise to people. They believe in what they do. I am always praying for them and the good work that they do. Thank you very much!
Name: Lamin J. Conteh Gender: Male Age: 14 years Occupation: Student
All what I say is thanks to Mariatu's Hope and The Water Project and their donors for the support you have given to our school since from a very long time. Even up to now, you continue to care and come back to our school and help us when our water well has a problem. May God provide for the donor for everything they desire in their heart and also to Mummy Ruth and Mr. Robert and the team. Thank you all!
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
Follow-up for this well is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.