Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program:
Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:
Installed

Functionality Status:
Functional

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Stories and Community Profile

Ebola’s Impact

Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last two years. Though considered stable at the moment, the country is still very cautious.

Our teams have remained safe and are on the front lines of Ebola prevention through this water, hygiene and sanitation program.  Your support acknowledges and celebrates their selfless work and bravery.

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!

Please enjoy the following report comes straight from the field, edited for clarity and readability:

Welcome to the Community

Main Motor Road runs through Pewullay, Lungi, Kaffu Bullom, Port Loko, Sierra Leone. Pewullay is a coastal town with a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean. The coast is used for one activity alone, and that is fishing.

There’s never a dull day in a fishing community. Whenever there are boats out to sea, everyone’s attention is split between the land and sea. An eye and ear are turned toward the coast, waiting for the boats to return with their fishermen crying, “fish!” Even expecting mothers are left when there are fish to haul back to land! There’s no livelihood without them.

Friday is marked as the holy day for most people in Sierra Leone, so Friday is the one break in this community’s fishing routine. While some choose not to honor days of rest, this community has great respect for Friday because of a story passed down generation to generation:

There was a group of fishermen who did not regard the law not to fish on Friday. They went out to sea, where they encountered the spirit that ruled the sea. Since they had been disobeying the law, the spirit turned them into monkeys, gorillas, and pigs.

Pewullay is home to almost two thousand people. (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. To learn more, click here.)

Mr. Abdulahi Kargbo (check out his pictures under the “See Photos & Video” tab), a councilor of Mayaya, submitted an application for a well. After multiple visits to the village, we deemed it necessary to undertake two projects in Pelluway to provide accessible and clean water for all. The situation is described in detail below, along with our plans for this project.

Water Situation

Community members catch water in open containers during the rains or buy packaged water when they can afford it. There is a well at the local primary school that supplements these methods, but this well is highly restricted. Since it is one well that serves thousands of people, there are many rules for fetching its water. Only one community member is allowed on the well pad at one time. Before entering the gate, shoes must be removed and the head covered. Once inside, the pump is used to deliver water through the pipe to the waiting water container. The long lines at the well often discourage people who then choose to fetch water from the swamp instead, which is located at the bottom of a dangerous hill. Though the well is yielding clean water, the community is still desperate for other water sources. With just one clean source, at least a thousand people must still rely on other contaminated sources.

The village is over a mile wide, so fetching water requires a plan. One wouldn’t want to walk a long ways only to find out the well is too busy! For those who live the farthest, a wheelbarrow must be brought to transport the heavy water load. We noticed that water containers are rarely cleaned with soap, and water storage containers do not have lids. The water to be used that day is left out in the open so it can be easily accessed.

Major health consequences have been recorded because of the water shortage here. People suffer from cholera, typhoid, dysentery, bloated stomachs and skin discoloration. People don’t even have enough water to was their utensils between meals!

We met a prominent, 40-year-old man who has lived in Pewullay all of his life:

My name is Mohamed I Kamara. I was born and raised in this community. My forefathers were the pioneers and founders of this land, so I was lucky enough to get an education. I belong to an elite group of six that have made a life for ourselves other than being a fisherman. I teach at a secondary school in another village. There are more than two thousand people around here. My niece was killed a few years ago attempting to climb down the hill to fetch water. This is an ongoing devastation that has plagued our community. The cholera, dysentery, typhoid and skin discoloration are daily occurrences, so we have gotten used to that and take it with a grain of salt.

Sanitation Situation

No more than half of households in Pewullay have a latrine. The typical latrine in this kind of sandy environment is a hole dug anywhere from six to eight feet deep. Palm leaves are weaved together to make walls, and a piece of cloth is hung to cover the entrance. A windy day isn’t good for privacy! It’s typical to see a car tire used as a toilet seat since locals cannot afford concrete. Open defecation is a huge issue here, especially near the shore. A majority of the fishermen use the sea not only for fishing, but for relieving themselves! They prefer the beach because as opposed to a latrine pit, the ocean never fills up.

Under a quarter of families have a bathing room for personal hygiene or a useful dish rack or clothesline for drying belongings up off the ground. We found just one hand-washing station in the entire area, and have included a picture of it as proof!

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will be trained for three days on hygiene and sanitation. Because of such a large population, we are prepared to extend training if there is a need. After our initial visit, we have decided to focus on latrines and hand-washing stations. We will teach the importance of having latrines and hand-washing stations and using them at all times! We will also describe the dangers of letting animals roam free, and the need for pens and cages. Last but not least, we will teach about the proper way to handle water so that it remains safe from the well all the way home.

All locals will be notified of the training schedule ahead of time. They should also bring a five-liter jerrycan so that they can build a hand-washing station for their family. We will provide the rope and sticks, and give them a step-by-step walkthrough of how to build it.

Plans: New Well

This borehole will be one of two we drill for this community. It will be located in the upper part of the community that is farthest away from the existing well, on land addressed as #5 Main Motor Road.

The community is ready and willing to help in any way possible. One of the men told us that if need be, he’s will carry the drill rig on his back! We told him that won’t be necessary, of course. All they’ll have to do is provide food for our construction team and a helping hand when we need it.


Project Photos


Recent Project Updates


11/04/2016: #5 Main Motor Road Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a new well at #5 Main Motor Road in town, and it’s now providing clean water! Thousands of locals no longer have to walk long distances to the overcrowded primary school well, nor rely on alternative contaminated sources. Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines. This water and new knowledge give the community a great foothold in eliminating water and sanitation-related illness. Please enjoy this update detailing all the work that was done around Main Motor Road and make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab above to find new pictures of the finished project.

Thank You for unlocking potential in this community. You made clean water a reality, and now you have a chance to make sure it keeps flowing. Join our team of monthly donors and help us, our caretakers, and our mechanics maintain this well and hundreds of other projects!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held in the center of town, a short distance away from the new well site.

The total population of this village exceeds six thousand people. The town crier, with megaphone in hand, went to the wharf several days prior to announce the scheduled training. When our facilitator arrived for training, there were crowds of people who said they had already been gathered for two hours, eagerly awaiting the good news of a new well in their area.

This was the most cooperative community we’ve worked with since the beginning of the year. Turnout for hygiene training was more than we expected. The training was scheduled for ten in the morning, and most people were there around nine. The community center was swept, tables lined up, and empty containers ready for making hand-washing stations. Families had already constructed latrines, and some had even made hand-washing stations before training.

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The biggest challenge during training was the resistance people had towards separating domestic animals from their living spaces. The community just does not have any animal houses.

We used the beach as an illustration to teach the differences between a healthy and unhealthy community. If people use the beach as a latrine, and later go there to fish, how can that affect them? Children are left with no clothes and no shoes. The children in fishing communities are most prone to infections resulting from contaminated food, worms, parasites and cholera. The communal living practices in this community are a catalyst for the spread of infectious disease.

16 sierraleone5091 training

The results of training were encouraging. The actions of people here in Pewullay Village set an example for surrounding villages to follow. The nearly two thousand people in this section of the village had constructed toilets and dish racks even before training. The hygiene team went house to house to ensure this! The community had also gathered all of the labor, stones and sand for our team of well artisans and mechanics.

Isata Sesay is a fisherwoman and a mother who attended training. She said, “How quickly do we forget the epidemic that ravaged our country for almost two years; it is long forgotten. It is now a distant memory, more of a taboo to be spoken about. The word “Ebola” is forbidden to be spoken of in any community. What you taught to us now had been mandatory in all corners of the country. This is a first in our community; water is provided and knowledge is given to us and our children. The community was long awaiting this blessing that has been showered on to us. How many other organizations would give you a present and a gift of life, and at the same time show you how to reduce the infections in your community? None.”

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Project Result: New Well

The drilling for this new borehole began on September 29th.

The road heading northwest towards Pewullay has been eroded over the years. Since it’s so damaged, the well had to be constructed on the right side of the road. As we sited for this well, there were serious discussions about road markers. There were some people who said we didn’t need to pay attention to the road boundary lines that had been erected years ago. We explained that we must pay attention to those markers so that in the future, if there is more expansion, the borehole will not be demolished. This is now happening in several other areas of Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom. Twenty to thirty years ago, the village was more than a mile away from the coastline. Now, the distance has decreased to only three hundred feet! The possible sites for the well were limited, since we had to avoid all old latrines and cemeteries. We finally found an ideal spot between two households.

Two identical holes were dug a few feet away from the base of the drill rig to act as a drilling supply and disposal system. The drill pipes were added every five feet of drilling until the desired depth was attained. The well was dug to a depth of 115 feet. We ended up backtracking about 20 feet. In the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, the general depth of a borehole is normally one hundred feet before charcoal sediments begin to affect the water sample, so now the borehole depth is 95 feet. A mixture of bentonite and cement was poured down the hole to reinforce the well. The filter pack was put at the screen. Pipes were lowered, and then cement was poured down the corners of the well to stabilize the pipes in place. After a successful yield test, the pad was constructed and then the pump was installed. Finally, the wall was erected and painted.

28 sierraleone5091 construction

The women here were so hospitable and played a very important role in keeping the drill team happy: they cooked a lot of good food! Early in the morning, the chairlady of the water user committee prepared breakfast, and later in the afternoon would prepare the evening meal and then wash everybody’s muddy clothes.

The only challenge during construction was the fact that it took more than one day! This community was so eager for a new water source that they selected three people that monitored our every move to ensure the well was completed as soon as possible.

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It was a sunny Saturday morning when children arrived to see who would get the first taste of water from the well. We let a nursing mother have the first taste. The crowd was all smiles while the mother’s five-month-old little baby nestled on her back, smiling too. He was smiling and enjoying the rocking motion of his mother pumping water at the well, not knowing that from this day on, he will be drinking clean and safe water. The community was so happy that they hired a native folklore singer to perform for the occasion. Hundreds of people gathered to sing, dance and pray.

Yeabu Fofanah is a woman who survived the same landslide that killed Mohamed I Kamara’s niece. Yeabu is now in her fifties, and has suffered excruciating pain since the accident. She now walks with a limp, but her pain has eased enough that she can do minimal chores around the house. She was there busy dancing and praising for the miracle of water in her community. When she thinks about going down the steep hill to fetch water, a cold sweat pours down the back of her neck. It could have been her that died that day. Now she can say, “I am thankful that God has helped us. Finally in my lifetime, our children will never have to go down the hill anymore to fetch water. God works in mysterious ways, unimaginable to the human mind!”

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One of the local child health clubs came and marched through the village with puppets and a banner. They even performed a puppet show at the well. It was great!

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What Now?

The community voted on the water user committee to ensure that rules and guidelines are strictly enforced at the well. All repairs and maintenance within the next twelve months will be strictly under our control. We put these rules in place to minimize any tampering with the well and pump. There are no skilled mechanics in the community who are able to properly maintain or repair the well, so any and all problems must be reported to our office as soon as possible. When repairs are made, we will invite the water user committee and train its members how to do those repairs.

In the past, organizations would assign a caretaker, give him a toolkit, and then leave after the pump was installed. When the pump broke down, the caretaker really had no idea what they were doing and sometimes caused more harm than good. We believe in relationships, and have made a commitment to the community to return when there is a breakdown. Now, the caretaker will call us when he needs help!


The Water Project : 3-sierraleone5091-dedication


09/07/2016: #5 Main Motor Road New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, the neighborhood around #5 Main Motor Road in Sierra Leone will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A new well is being constructed and the community will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this community!

We just posted an initial report from our partner in the field including an introduction to the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses.

Check out the tabs above to learn more, and Thank You for caring for the thirsty!


The Water Project : 5-sierraleone5091-carrying-water


Monitoring Data


Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Port Loko, Kaffu Bullom, Lungi, Pewullay
ProjectID: 5091
Install Date:  11/04/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Functional
Last Visit: 05/26/2017

Visit History:
04/04/2017 — Functional
05/26/2017 — Functional




Contributors

Project Sponsor - Ipenburg Family
1 individual donor(s)


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Country Details

Sierra Leone

Population: 9.7 Million
Lacking clean water: 47%
Below poverty line: 70%

Partner Profile

Mariatu’s Hope works with vulnerable communities and individuals to inspire hope through Maternal Care, Infant Nutrition, Safe Water Access, Proper Sanitation and Health and Hygiene promotion.