Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 173 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/13/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is a part of our shared program with Mariatu’s Hope of Sierra Leone. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

Welcome to the School

Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School was established in August of 2013 at the old RC Primary School building in Mayaya Village. They were holding classes in this older building until they were able to build their own. It took four years and a lot of struggling to do this. While we were working in the Mayaya Section last year, we were approached by the heads of this school who wanted us to drill a well at their new location. We told them that it would not be possible to drill a well at a school which was still under construction. In Sierra Leone, it is not uncommon to see unfinished buildings with brush growing up inside of them because the person ran out of money to finish the job. We met with the school leadership and had a conversation about the need for the building to be completed, including latrines, and that the students must be attending classes. We continued to monitor their progress and decided that the well needed to be pushed to 2018.

You can just imagine how thrilled we were to receive word in the way of photographs and text messages that students are now attending the school! We could not be more excited to take part in the development of this school and the continued development of this community.

This school was started with 91 pupils and 8 staff who were all paid by the founders. It became a community school because these members are in Mayaya community. In 2014, this school was officially approved by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, making it the first government-approved school in the section. Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School presently employs eight staff and teaches 99 pupils. They have a school garden and other land reserved for development. It also shares a football playing ground with the primary school which is nearby the school. The school does not have a feeding program, but food vendors always come to sell their foods to both teachers and students.

This is a farming and fishing community, so students also learn these activities from their parents. Those who are not lucky enough to attend school must go straight to work farming and fishing or doing petty trading.

The school's location is very special because it is not close to houses, markets, or any other busy areas. Even though it is located in a fishing community, it is far away from the wharf.

Water Situation

Students gather swamp water with large buckets that they carry on their heads. The swamp's water is cloudy, but the school uses it for drinking, cooking, and cleaning anyways.

The water is particularly dangerous because of the dirt and waste washed into it during rains. Wild animals also share this same source with the school. After drinking this water, people break out in rashes, typhoid, diarrhea, ringworm, and cholera. It's also common to get malaria since the swamp is a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Sanitation Situation

The school started by building two new pit latrines, one for each gender. They're made out of mud blocks, zinc roofs and doors. The slab for the floor is cement with a hole in the middle. There are no hand-washing stations.

The community gets hit hard when there are outbreaks of disease. This school worked very hard to construct a pit latrine which was one of the requirements for us to come and drill a borehole. We believe that the school personnel and school head do care about hygiene and they really want us to impart good hygiene knowledge to the students and hope that the students will take this information home to their parents.

Principal Komrabai Saidu Conteh said, "It is painful for me that Mayaya is always victim of all diseases that break out in the nation due to poor hygiene such as cholera, diarrhea, and ebola which kills plenty of people in this section. The above-mentioned diseases leads to high death rate in the community, especially the outbreak of cholera in the year 2000 killed about 15 people in this community. In fact, one home was completely destroyed as a result of this disease called cholera. In 2014, 53 people were killed by ebola and 16 people survived. So this community as far as health is concerned, they are completely ignorant and my own very pupils are sometimes involved in this incidence."

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Teachers and students will be trained at the school for three days, three hours a day. If it seems that students are getting too tired, we will space out the three hours more so that they can have breaks. We normally train community members as well, but the residential area is too far away.

Our facilitator plans to use the PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training) method, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations to teach about management and maintenance of the new pump, diseases transmission, hand-washing, building latrines and using them, and constructing dish racks. An entire session will lead participants through how to build a “tippy-tap,” which is a hand-washing station made from a jerrycan, rope, and sticks.

Plans: New Borehole Well

The well will be located on school ground, which is of course most convenient for the school.

Our team will drive over the LS200 mud rotary drill rig and set up camp for a couple of nights. Once the well is drilled to a sufficient water column, it will be cased, developed, and then tested. If these tests are positive, our mechanics will install a new India Mark II pump.

These students have suffered greatly from drinking swamp water. By drilling this borehole, they will be provided with plenty of safe drinking water.

Project Updates

November, 2018: A Year Later: Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to drill a well for Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School in Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

January, 2018: Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a new well at Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School, and it’s now providing clean water! Students here no longer have to rely on dirty water from the swamp. Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted, with a strong focus on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines. This water and new knowledge give the school and surrounding community a great foothold in eliminating water and sanitation-related illness. Please enjoy this update detailing all the work that was around Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School 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 at this school. 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

We started organizing hygiene and sanitation training as soon as we met the school teachers. Thanks to their had work, we had a great turnout for the sessions. Since all the students came, we had to meet outside. There were also several teachers and food vendors there.

To get the pupils' attention, we asked them to show us what kind of activities they do with their hands. Most of them brought up that hands are for eating! This first session was on hand-washing, and we advised them to take good care of their hands - especially before eating food and after using the toilet. We introduced the "tippy-tap" as a hand-washing station, and they were taught how to make it.

Students and their teachers working together to make hand-washing stations.

The next day, we started the training with the topic "good and bad hygiene." We showed pictures of bad behaviors like open defecation and an uncovered latrine pit. With those pictures, we were able to enlighten them as to why these are harmful. Several other pictures helped us introduce good practices, including what it takes to keep the environment clean. We also focused on disease transmission, and how they're unaware that so many of the things they do are connected. We brought up hand-washing again, sharing that hand-washing is the cheapest and easiest way to prevent the spread of disease.

The trainer holds up a picture of the environment and has students point out the good and bad things they see.

We taught about malaria, water treatment, parasites, and ORS (oral rehydration solution) the last day.


We immediately saw that students had set tippy-taps up around school grounds, and that the women who sell food had set up counters to keep their food off the ground. 24-year-old trader Salamatu Dumbuya said, "First of all, I would like to commend Mariatu’s Hope for this good work that they have done for us. We were like sheep on the road leading to destruction. All we knew was to wash our hands with water only. But you have taught us to wash our hands with soap and water. One of the lessons that amazed me was the various hand-washing methods: interlace, interlock, back to palm and palm to palm. It is only you who have taught such hand-washing methods. I have promised to practice these methods always and to teach those around me. Also, there are other lessons that I have learnt from these teachings. They are: Covering foods to keep them from flies, washing hands before cooking and during cooking, disposal of trash in a dust bin and covering a pit latrine after using it."

Salamatu Dumbuya

Project Result: New Well

The school offered the drill team a large classroom to stay in during their work. Parents brought meals to the school to feed them. The team was relieved to find that the rainy weather was finally letting up in time for this project.

The community and students were happy and eager to help. They carried water from the swamp to the site as needed. The drill team used 1,700 gallons of water (6,400 liters) for their mud rotary drill, all carried on people's heads to the drill site.

Two pits were dug for the mud rotary drill, one for water that's pushed down the hole and the other for the material that's pulled back out. The borehole is drilled in sections of five feet, with the team taking a ground sample at those points. Drilling went smoothly all the way to 80 feet!

The cuttings are also used for determining the best aquifer location so that screen can be cut in the pipes. Once the drill is removed from he borehole, the casing can replace it. The connections must be made tight so that pipe parts do not fall down the hole on their own! Filter pack is poured down between the casing and the hole. Bentonite and clay help seal the filter pack, after which a cement well pad can be built.

The team bails the borehole until water runs clean, which often takes up to four days. The well then undergoes a yield test. After 30 minutes of pumping with a submersible, the static water level is measured. An hour later, it is measured again. There was no chance of the static water level, which measures in at 52 feet. The submersible pumped 520 gallons in one hour, which means the yield is 32 liters per minute.

With these good results, the new stainless steel India MkII pump was installed. This pump was installed to a depth of 70 feet.

Students, teachers, parents, and leadership gathered to celebrate the clean water now flowing at Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School. The community chief was there to offer his thanks. The Principal Conteh said, that "the availability of the water well has helped solved the problem of pupils going home early whenever they were sent down to the stream to fetch water. They always escaped during that interval!" Clean water is keeping children in school.

Principal Conteh handing one of his students a cup of clean water pumped from the new borehole.

Joseph Komba the student prefect said, "This is an absolute truth, that water is life. Because without it, life would not have been. I am very pleased with everything that took place. The hygiene training, and our now new and safe drinking water source in our school compound."

August, 2017: Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School Project Underway

Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School will soon have a new source of safe, clean water thanks to your donation. A new well is being constructed and the teachers and students will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this school and the greater community.

We just posted an initial report from our partner in the field including information about the school, maps, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work progresses.

Thank you for caring for the thirsty!

Project Photos

Project Type

Abundant water is often right under our feet! Beneath the Earth’s surface, rivers called aquifers flow through layers of sediment and rock, providing a constant supply of safe water. For borehole wells, we drill deep into the earth, allowing us to access this water which is naturally filtered and protected from sources of contamination at the surface level. First, we decide where to drill by surveying the area and determining where aquifers are likely to sit. To reach the underground water, our drill rigs plunge through meters (sometimes even hundreds of meters!) of soil, silt, rock, and more. Once the drill finds water, we build a well platform and attach a hand pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around five gallons of water per minute!

A Year Later: Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School

October, 2018

“We are now used to drinking pure water in class.” – Amara Sumah

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School 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!

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to drill a well for Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School in Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – and we’re excited to share this one from local team member Madieu Turay with you.

Students are not leaving school and roaming around in search of pure drinking water.

The water from the borehole is also used for cleaning classrooms, latrines, and the students themselves. They are using soap and clean water to wash their hands.

There is a new two-classroom building that was built using water from the well.

We spoke to Mr. Komrabai Conteh and student Amara Sumah about some of the other changes they've noticed over the year.

From left to right: Mr. Komrabai Conteh, Amara Sumah, Madieu Turay

"There is an improvement in school health and sanitation," said Mr. Conteh.

"About one quarter of the community people also have access to fetch water at the school compound."

Construction of the well is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This well at Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School is changing many lives.

"We are now used to drinking pure water in class," said Amara.

Amara Sumah

"We also have stopped going to the swamp with my colleagues to fetch water. We also use the water to launder and take showers after playing football around the compound."

This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

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 Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School 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 Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School – 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.


Project Sponsor - The Matthew Martin Family
1 individual donor(s)