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Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 149 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

"We have been taught the dangers associated with not having a latrine, not having a hand-washing station, not having animal houses and walking barefooted."

Kadiatu Kamara

Community Profile & Stories

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

The meaning of Rowal is “a place of rest” in the native language of the Bullomites, a tribe that is slowly disappearing. This Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom was founded by this peaceful tribe. Since then, they have been taken over by the Temnes and the Susu peoples, two of the most aggressive tribes in northern Sierra Leone. There is little left that even remotely resembles the Bullom tribe, whether it be the tribal customs or language. In a village of 149 people, only three people can speak the Bullom tribe’s language fluently.

The Bullomites are mostly dependent on fishing and swamp farming. This part of the chiefdom does not have enough dry land for any other type of farming. For people in this community, farming is life. They spend most of their days in the swamp laden with leaches and all kinds of creeping insects and worms. Children as young as seven have a big role to play in the swamp. Standing in water for hours at a time has turned their young feet into those of an old man or woman. Athlete’s foot is normal, the constant itchy and flaking skin. Early in the morning, young and old head for the swamp. The rainy season is the time to nurse different types of fruits and vegetables.

The scene is one to behold, a unique stretch of land going far and wide, as far as the eye can see. A river runs alongside the village until it eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

Water Situation

It’s about a fifteen-minute walk to the swamp. When a woman or child arrives, they normally dig a whole next to a palm tree. The tree normally keeps the water and ground a bit cooler in the shade. The person will either step into the hole or bend over to scoop water, careful not to agitate the dirt at the bottom. After filling a plastic container, it is left to sit until dirt settles to the bottom. From an early age, children become accustomed to carrying large, full five-gallon containers on their heads.

Water used for household chores is normally left outside the kitchen. Drinking water is normally brought in, covered, and put up on a table.

There is no doubt this surface water from the swamp is contaminated. Tadpoles, fish, water snakes, and leeches live in the water. The floor of the swamp is extremely muddy, too! If you step in the water, you’ll get sucked down about two feet. There are a lot of people with skin rashes and bloated stomachs. Locals often suffer from diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, and fevers. This population has decreased drastically over the years because there is no clean water and no suitable healthcare facility.

Pa Saio Kamara, whose picture is included in the “See Photos & Video” section, expressed his frustration. Life with dirty water is the only life he’s known, and it has caused a lot of grief. He said, “We are tired of drinking water, but what can we do? We don’t cry anymore when someone dies, because our children die on a daily basis. I have buried my children and grandchildren, but I am still alive. That is why we bear a lot of children because more than half of them end up dying anyways.”

Sanitation Situation

A little over half of households have a native pit latrine. These are made of palm leaves braided together for walls and a roof. There is a hole dug in the middle anywhere from six to eight feet deep. Two boards are often suspended over the top on either side to stabilize those who want to use the pit. These are always very difficult for the elderly to use. None of the latrines had a place to wash hands for after their use. We found one hand-washing station in the entire village, locked inside someone’s home.

Under a quarter of these same families have a room dedicated for personal hygiene. We didn’t see many helpful tools like dish racks or clotheslines, either. Some families had dug small ditches in the back of their property to dispose of garbage. When too much garbage piles up, they burn it.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Training will be offered to the community for three days. At least one representative of each household is required to attend. The facilitator will use the PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training) method to teach participants how to make their own hand-washing stations, wash hands, construct proper latrines, and many other topics. By the end of training, each household that participated will have their own hand-washing station. The training will also prepare a water user committee that will oversee and maintain the new well.

Plans: New Well

The well will be drilled in the center of the village, right next to the mosque. It is far from latrines, burial grounds, and restricted areas. We are so excited to bring safe water to this village because these people are serious about development. When we first visited, we told the headman that every household would need to have and use a latrine if they want to fetch water from the new well. By the time of this report, every single home that didn’t have a latrine now has one newly built! We know that with our united efforts, we and the community will make huge strides.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Rowal Village

A year ago, generous donors helped build a well for the Rowal community in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Nanah Mansaray, with you.

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12/21/2016: Rowal Village Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a new well in Rowal Village, and it’s now providing clean water! Hundred of people here no longer have to rely on dirty water from the swamp. 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 Rowal Village 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 front of the headman’s house under the shade of a mango tree. This location was about 300 feet away from the well construction site.

The headman played a key role in organizing his community for training. He made house calls to inform each family about the three days of training coming up. Our only logistical challenge was finding enough space for everyone that wanted to attend!

The first day of training, women and children came with plastic containers to learn how to build their own hand-washing station. All of these households had already constructed latrines and dish racks, and were excited to share their experience with us and their neighbors.

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We taught them how to wash their hands, to use the latrine, and take care of animals. We used illustrations to show the differences between a healthy and unhealthy community. Using the bathroom nearby a drinking water source is not OK! All of this teaching was a challenge, though, because many of the villagers speak Krio, a dialect that differs from the one spoken by our team. We did our best to use other ways to share information, and know that neighbors and family will fill in the gaps.

We equipped a handful of participants to form a water user committee that will manage and maintain the new well for their community. The local leadership has also taken on some of the responsibility for the changes they want to see in their area; they want to see every household have their own latrine, hand-washing station and dish rack.

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This training was very successful, with the turnout being more than expected. People here are tired of drinking dirty water and will do anything to change the situation. Now, every single household has a latrine in preparation of the new clean water source.

Mrs. Kadiatu Kamara was one of the many women who attended training to see what she could do to improve life for her family. She told us that “a large number of houses did not have a latrine, but due to the training, each and every house was required to have a latrine before the well was constructed. We have been taught the dangers associated with not having a latrine, not having a hand-washing station, not having animal houses and walking barefooted.”

Kadiatu Kamara

Project Result: New Well

Construction for this borehole began on November 11th.

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Once we delivered the LS200 drill rig to the site, community members helped us dig two holes mean for drill supply and waste. At every five feet, a pipe was lowered to help keep the hole from collapsing. We stopped drilling at 60 feet because the soil there was becoming soft and sandy. Bags of a cement mix were poured down the sides to keep the pipes in position, and a few days later the well pad was cast. The well was then bailed and then a submersible pump was lowered to test the yield. The well passed the test at 70 liters per minute. We gave the mechanics the OK to install the India Mark II pump and shock chlorinate.

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The community was so excited because nobody had every done something like this for them before. Women, men and children all pitched in to fetch water used for drilling. They collected stones cooked food, and washed clothes for our drilling team.

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Each person greatly anticipated their first sip of water from the well. They kept calling our offices to check on the completion date, wondering when we could schedule the dedication.

We met a young man in his twenties that suffers from a handicap. He says he has never left his village, and has had to rely on others to fetch his water. He says this well is going to benefit him more than any other person. “I spend all of my days in this village, unable to work or walk far distances. I might just have to spend my days at this well! I will clean it and do whatever is necessary to keep the well working as long as possible. I wasn’t chosen to be on the committee, but it doesn’t matter. I will volunteer anyways. I can drink all the water I want without being yelled at!”

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10/28/2016: Rowal Village New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, the Rowal Village in Sierra Leone will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A new well is being drilled 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!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Videos

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Port Loko, Kaffu Bullom, Lungi, Mayaya, Rowal
ProjectID: 5093
Install Date:  12/21/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/04/2017

Visit History:
04/05/2017 — Functional
05/26/2017 — Functional
08/25/2017 — Functional
12/04/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Rowal Village

December, 2017

Before the community people usually go to the swamp to fetch water for drinking but due to the help of this project life has greatly improved in this community.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a well for the Rowal community in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Nanah Mansaray, with you.

Clean water has created many opportunities and changes flowing throughout the Rowal community. Mohamad Kargbo, an auditor in Rowal shares, “The biggest change that has happen in our community since this project was brought here is that our children always go to school on time and even our wives prepared food on time because they do not have to run down the stream to fetch water for cooking which can take a lot of time an energy because where the stream was too far from the village, but now they can easily walk few steps an access safe and pure water.” Access to clean water unlocks time, energy, and health for new possibilities each and every day.

Yet, clean water is only one step in the process to improved health in a community. Mariatu’s Hope also trains community members in improved total hygiene and the importance of latrine access. Nanah Mansaray reports, “At the time of the baseline survey, not all houses had latrines. Now, they can boast of having latrines and also tippy taps set up to wash their hands. Before they never had anything like that.”  However, all who were interviewed indicated that the community can still improve in the area of community hygiene and sanitation.

A little boy came to the well to fetch water during our visit.

Often the biggest impact with clean water occurs in the lives of girls who carry the burden of accessing water for school and family, and who can be quite vulnerable on the path fetching water.  In light of such threats and trials we rejoice when Aminata S. Kamara, age 18 and in the 9th grade, shares, “I started drinking clean and safe water which makes me so happy, and I stop going to school late. Even our mothers normally help in fetching water to prepare food because the pump is close to our houses.”  Aminata now faces less risk getting water, has more time for her studies, and even received assistance from her family because of the proximity of the water to her home!

We are excited to stay in touch with Rowal community and report back with more positive stories because of the continuing presence Mariatu’s Hope has here.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


Project Sponsor - Michael and Jane Weber

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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.