Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program:
Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:
Installed

Functionality Status:
Functional

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Mr. Mohamed Kamara could not believe that people you had never seen or known before could invest some much money and time in you!



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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. We still receive periodic reports of people being quarantined due to showing symptoms of Ebola.

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!

Background Information

This community is located across from the airport and down the road a little. Besides its proximity to the Lungi International Airport, it is also very near to a swamp with a very lush garden area. It is also not far from two hotels, the seaside, African Minerals’ office and the beach where people fish. The women say that this is a wonderful place to live because they can always buy fresh fish from the beach, gardens boast fresh vegetables, and there is a nice place to sell goods near the airport. Occupations in this community range from gardeners and fishermen to airport workers, hotel workers, hospital workers, teachers, students and petty traders.

This community has a population of 3,750 people from over 250 households. (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.)

During our initial community engagement meeting with stakeholders, we asked for input as to what their normal day looks like. This is a predominantly Muslim community and they all said that they wake up at 5AM to prepare for prayer at 5:30. After prayer, the men and women who are farmers head to the garden area to begin their work. The children begin sweeping, go fetch water, wash any dishes from the night before, eat breakfast, bathe themselves, get dressed for school, fetch more water, and then go to school. The petty traders head out to set up their shops, while other community members head to their respective professional jobs. The gardeners work in their gardens until noon. Upon returning home, the women go to the market from around 12‐2 where they buy what they will cook for dinner. The children return home from school anywhere from 2:30PM onward. They fetch water and quickly wash their uniforms and hang them out to dry. They may eat a small snack and then go out for extra lessons after fetching more water for their mothers to cook with. Extra lessons are something most schools have as a way for teachers to earn extra money. The women return home from the market and begin to cook. After the meal is prepared, they will eat and the gardeners will return to the garden to water and weed and then return home by 6PM. They wash and prepare themselves to go for prayer again. After prayer everyone returns home and gathers outside to fellowship with each other. The usual bedtime is anywhere between 9‐10PM.

The prayer schedule is as follows: 6:30AM is Fagri prayer and it lasts for 10 minutes. 1:30PM is Dhruh prayer which lasts for five minutes. On Friday, this prayer time is called Jumah and is extended to one hour. After the regular five-minute prayer there is a lecture. 4:30PM is Asr prayer which lasts five minutes. 7:05PM is Magrib prayer which is also five minutes, and then at 8:05PM they have Isha prayer. Between Magrib and Isha prayer, they stay at the mosque for a lecture.

When asking the women about household chores such as washing clothes, the women say that all laundry (except the washing of children’s uniforms) is done on the weekends so that they can concentrate on their gardens during the week. The children are responsible for the washing of their own uniforms; they learn at a very young age how to wash clothes. On any given Saturday, it is not unusual to see a very large group of women and children in a circle washing, rinsing, beating and hanging clothes on the line, ground or bushes.

The Current Source

This community resorts to packaged water and a local, unprotected well. The well is open, constructed 15 years ago by the community’s headman. According to the headman, the well has never gone dry. The well is obviously contaminated because the residents use a rope and a rubber to fetch water. In between uses, the rope and container are on the dirt ground. As people come to fetch water, the rope and the rubber container get thrown back down into the well. There are chickens and other animals roaming around near the well, as well as children playing.

People fetch water from this well with a rope and bucket, and then pour this water into their own five-gallon containers. These containers were for vegetable oil, and some still have their screw caps. Families write their names on them, since the container of vegetable oil cost approximately 2USD. In the afternoons when fetching water for sponge baths, larger buckets are used. Locals use native soap to clean their water containers, mixing it around with water and sand or gravel. This cleaning method keeps the containers from getting slimy.

Gathered water is brought into the house. It gets poured into a large bucket with a cover on it, and that water is used for drinking water. It is stored up on a table that has a clean cloth on it. There is a single cup that gets placed upside-down on the cover of the container, and everyone uses the same cup. This is standard practice, even at hospitals and businesses. An aside, I was at the US Embassy and a young girl got a drink of water from the water source in the waiting room. When she finished drinking from the paper cup, she turned it over and put it back onto the pile of clean cups on top of the water container. Although this is a prime source of disease transmission, it will be a very hard habit to break.

Some people filter water through a piece of cotton, or others use aqua tabs. However, many people do nothing to treat water before drinking. When the community was asked about the effects of drinking water from the unprotected well, they said there were no negative repercussions. But diarrhea and stomachaches are considered a norm, so a protected source will certainly help alleviate these symptoms.

The headman wrote a letter requesting assistance installing a hand-pump for the open well. When we visited the community, the headman was very active and he and the community members were very enthusiastic about the project and were willing to share ideas about how they can make their community and environment healthier. They were also excited about getting started on improving some key areas that were pointed out during the initial survey. We believe this is going to be a great project!

This well, although on private property, has always been a community well. A written agreement will be signed by the landowner and other leaders in the community. This well is a good candidate because it is lined and has been a good well, always having water. By installing additional casings and digging the well deeper, it can only enhance its ability to continue serving the community well.

Sanitation Situation

Over 75% of households have pit latrines.

The latrines range from basic mud blocks with mixed roofing materials, to indoor pour/flush toilets. While some latrines were very clean and hardly had a bad odor, others were enough to gag a person. There were chickens running in and out of some of the latrines. There were no handwashing stations anywhere. When we asked about open defecation, the community said it is not an issue. The adults said that small children all have chamber or plastic pots they use. Under a quarter of the community uses helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Garbage is thrown on the ground and then gets burned. One of the components of the hygiene and sanitation training will encourage each home to dig a compost and garbage pit.

It seems most people just get by, and life is difficult. Perhaps the misconception is that hygiene and sanitation, i.e., handwashing and such, all take too much money. Our trainers are going to introduce community members to some very low‐cost ideas that will change their ideas about hygiene.

The headman, Kelfala Bangura, told us that he felt very good about his community. He said there was no suffering. When asked if he felt that there could be some room for improvement to the hygiene and sanitation aspects of daily life, he said absolutely. He said he was open to some new ideas. The men and women who were in the group also said that they were excited and willing to hear what we had to share and that they were willing to change.

Training Sessions

We discussed the water user committee which will be formed by the community, and we encouraged them to make it gender-balanced. We discussed a maintenance fee from every household to support a repair on the pump after a period of one year. The community members said they would contribute some cement blocks for the wall built around the well to keep animals out.

At least one representative of every household is expected to attend training. There will be several hygiene and sanitation sessions, as there are several areas to be addressed. We will not be rushing through any part of the trainings. With such a large community, it is expected that the sessions will be broken down so that every household is covered.

Based on the initial survey, the following topics will be taught:

– Hand-washing

– Disease transmission and prevention

– Building dish racks and hand-washing stations

– Keeping water safe

– Digging garbage pits to keep the environment clean

Community members will provide a one-gallon container and we will provide the other materials to make hand-washing stations. We will be using local materials that are easy to come by so the community will see that this is a sustainable method that they can easily maintain. After they construct one tippy tap with us, they will be encouraged to think about where tippy taps should be installed and at what times of the day they need to wash their hands.

The facilitator will use PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training), group discussion, lecture, demonstration, and on-site training to present those topics and more.

Construction

The well needs to have additional casing made. We intend to make four casings and install them to deepen the well. We will monitor this well throughout the period of a year, taking water measurements to ensure there is a good supply of water year-round. Ideally, we like to make sure that when water is at its lowest, there is no less than seven feet of water in the well. After the well has been deepened and there is sufficient water, the well will be sealed and a new India Mark II hand-pump installed. The community will be trained on proper use of the hand-pump and the importance of keeping the area around the well clean.

Government and leadership will be there at the local level, and the Ministry of Water Resources will inspect the well upon completion and test the water.

Project Results: Training

Sanitation and hygiene training was conducted outside under the shade of trees nearby the well.

The training was organized through the village headman. We encouraged anyone who plans to use the rehabilitated well to attend this training, telling the headman we would like to get as close to 100% participation as possible. Thus, there were three scheduled trainings in this community. When we arrived for the first training, there were only around 20 people in attendance. We canceled the training on the spot and had a meeting with the headman and community elders and told them that we were very disappointed with the turnout, and that we had hoped for more people to show. We discussed that a better time for training sessions would be after mid-day prayers on a Friday or a Sunday afternoon when no one has to work. By changing the date and time to those suggested, we had much better participation. In all, we counted 131 adults and 100 children in attendance over the course of three trainings.

Based on findings from our initial community visit, we began training with both the importance of washing hands and how to construct a tippy tap. The community knew ahead of time that they were to bring a one gallon container to the training in order to construct a tippy tap handwashing-station for their home. We just provided the soap and the rope (the rope is used to tip the filled gallon container for running water). The community was actively engaged in this process. We set up in groups of 10 people: five men and five women, and had them work as a team. It was great! Other topics discussed at later trainings were disease transmission and how to block the transmission, good and bad hygiene, the importance of using a latrine, keeping your environment clean (with the discussion and practical around digging a dustbin for trash and constructing dish racks). We also talked about water storage and keeping water clean. Last but not least, we discussed proper use of the new pump to be installed on the community well. The community then voted on a WaSH committee.

Well Rehabilitation

Construction to renew this water source began on February 2nd. First, four caisson were constructed outside of the well using sealotex, binding wire, iron stone and rod, sand and cement. The well technician went down into the well and ensured proper measurements for the size of these additional caisson. The four caisson were allowed to dry and cure for more than one week. After proper curing, the caisson were rolled over to the well, tied with a heavy rope, and were lowered down using the jeep and a pulley. Once inside the well, they were tied to the caisson below and cemented. The dirt around the caisson was dug out and the caisson could be lowered further down inside the lining. Because of the recharge rate, we were not able to sink the caisson as deep as we would have liked, though we had 6.6 feet of water in the well, so were happy with that for the time being! We will continue to check the water level as we approach both the peaks of the dry season and the rainy season to be sure that there is a consistent water level of six to seven feet. After the installation of the caisson, the cover was put back on the well, a pump base was installed, and then the new India Mark II hand-pump was installed. The entire well was plastered and a security wall was built along with drainage. After the installation of the hand-pump, the well was shock chlorinated to 100PPM.

The one challenge encountered was that the well was constructed over 15 years ago: going down into the well had to be done cautiously because the condition of the casing and the lining was unknown. After establishing the condition of the well, it was cleared of debris that had piled up over the years… There were a lot of leaves, plastic trash, old shoes, and a whole lot of other unimaginable items that should not be found in a well that people use for drinking!

After construction to rehabilitate this well was complete, caretaker Alusine Suma rejoiced saying, “With God, everything is possible. We have been struggling for safe drinking water for the past 15 years, and God brought us safe drinking water! Thank you!”

The dedication ceremony was conducted on February 25th with hundreds of people present. The water user committee members were all present. During the ceremony, the donor logo was painted on the well and the banner was displayed.

Mohamed Kamara, a water user committee member and very active community spokesman, described the great project results and transformed  and saved lives. Everyone came together to pour out their appreciation and thanks for the donor: if it was all recorded, it would take days to listen. The timely response and installation of the hand-pump not only saves the health of locals, but also lessens the time children spend fetching water. In the previous water point the community depended on, water is a clayish and milky color with a swampy smell to it. Mohamed Kamara greatly expressed thanks to the Almighty God, The Water Project, Mariatu’s Hope and the donor for their show of love and care. Mr. Mohamed Kamara could not believe that people you had never seen or known before could invest some much money and time in you! All other organizations require payback from the community. A lot of groups go around taking money from desperate communities with promises of fixing the well, and so Mohamed asked us several times if there were really no strings attached to this project. Of course there weren’t! Before construction began, the community was apprehensive about talk of rehabilitation, and during the initial survey, some community members wouldn’t even give us their names. The headman walked with our team to every household to ensure and validate that this project really wasn’t a scam. They found it difficult to believe, and on dedication day, a majority of the people came to see it for themselves. They were very thankful and appreciative, deciding to offer prayers for an entire month for all who were involved in the well’s rehabilitation.


Project Photos


Recent Project Updates


05/03/2016: 22 Sesay Street Project Complete

We are very excited to report that the project to rehabilitate a well for the community at 22 Sesay Street in Sierra Leone is now complete. The well has been reconstructed, and the community has been trained in sanitation and hygiene, including how to make simple handwashing stations. Imagine the impact that clean water and clean hands will have on this community!

We just updated the project page with the latest pictures and information about the project. Take a look, and Thank You for caring for the thirsty!


The Water Project : 74-sierraleone5096-finished-well


03/08/2016: 22 Sesay Street Well Rehabilitation Project Underway

We are excited to announce that an area in Amina, 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. Together these resources will go a long way toward stopping the spread of disease in the area. We just posted a report including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

Take a look, and Thank You for your help!


The Water Project : 19-sierraleone5096-open-well


Monitoring Data


Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Lungi, Amina Area, 22 Sesay Street, #1 Bangura Compound
ProjectID: 5096
Install Date:  05/03/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Functional
Last Visit: 05/03/2017

Visit History:
05/05/2016 — Functional
09/13/2016 — Functional
12/05/2016 — Functional
01/26/2017 — Functional
02/25/2017 — Functional
05/03/2017 — Functional




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.