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Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 312 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status: 

Community Profile & Stories

Welcome to the Community

Mapeh Village is full of farmers who belong to the Susu Tribe. The village was given to the Susu by the Temne. The warring Temne Tribe used to fight off all invading tribes to control the vast lands. The Susu people normally depend on fishing, but in this part of the chiefdom there is no river to fish so they instead have turned their attention to farming.

They get up early in the morning to start the one mile walk to the farm. Children and parents gather pots and everything they will need for the day’s work. Walking along the foot path that is three to four feet wide, the children sing with a stick at hand to scare away any snakes that might be along the roadside.

At night after an hard day’s work, the community gathers around the elders of the village to tell stories. There are no televisions here, but there is a young man with a portable DVD player, and people gather around his house to watch. He gets constant gifts from the villagers to get the opportunity to sit at the front. This village has no access to electricity, so charging phones is an all day event. It takes a long walk or a motorcycle ride to the nearby village to charge their phones. In a village of more than three hundred, only two people have telephones.

Water Situation

There are two hand-dug wells in the village. One is monitored by us, and the other belongs to a joint venture between the government and a foreign organization. This other well is supposed to have a warranty, but the Kardia pump ends up sitting in disrepair for a long period of time.

The well we monitor is located at the entrance of the village. Children are not allowed to use the pump, which is a rule that has limited the amount of repairs we’ve had to make.

Both of these wells stop working every dry season for anywhere from two to six months, causing the community to depend on dirty surface water.

Retired farmer Pa Alimamy Suma said, “The worst time of the year for us is when the wells dry up and we are left with no choice but to drink swamp water.” This poses great danger to all in the community. Children have to take a bushy path to the swamp, risking snake bites. At the swamp, water is muddy and filled with tadpoles and small fish. The children suffer so much during these dry seasons without the wells; malaria, diarrhea, typhoid, and rashes are common as stomachs bloat with illness.

Sanitation Situation

A handful of households still don’t have a pit latrine of their own. These families instead share with their neighbor. The latrines we observed are made from palm leaves braided together into walls. But even though the majority has a pit, they still prefer to use the woods when nature calls; the latrines are left for guests and older people who can’t make it to the woods.

There are no hand-washing stations here, but about half of homes have either a dish rack or clothesline.

Plans: Sanitation and Hygiene Training 

Training will last for three hours a day for three days. The facilitators have already assessed sanitation here and decided that hand-washing and using the latrine will be strongly emphasized. During our hand-washing sessions, community members will be taught how to make their own hand-washing station out of a plastic jerrycan, sticks, and rope. These are the best solution for rural areas, since all the materials are all easily replaceable. Though pit latrines in this community are well-built, we also require that every family have their own.

Training will also result in the formation of a water user committee that will take responsibility for their new well. The members will manage and maintain the pump to the best of their ability, and will call our office if they need a mechanic to make a repair.

Plans: Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the community year round. The pump will be removed, and a man will be lowered inside with a hand auger. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a new water table, which will ensure the well supplies water throughout the drier seasons. As the team drills, casing will be installed, transforming this hand-dug well into a pseudo-borehole. PVC piping will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a construction that we know will also improve the quality of water.

Once this plan is implemented, everyone within the community will have access to safe drinking water in both quality and quantity, even through the dry months.

Recent Project Updates

07/12/2017: Mapeh Community's Well is Flowing with Reliable, Clean Water!

Mapeh Community, Sierra Leone, now has a well that provides clean water throughout the year, thanks to your donation! Hundreds of people are no longer stranded without clean water during the dry months. 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 of the work that was done in Mapeh Community, and be sure to check out the tons of new pictures!

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 at the village headman’s house, Pa Abu. He has a huge mango tree that provided shade for all of the participants. The training agenda was created using the information from the baseline survey, and the schedule was agreed upon during the team’s first community engagement meeting. When it was time for the hygiene trainings and other community development meetings, the town crier went out and gathered people. The dates and times were also announced after prayers in the mosque.

From the first day of the training to the final day, attendance was very good. Attendance was not only comprised of grown ups, but the training also attracted quite a few children. Their participation was well above average. Participants contributed meaningfully by asking questions and raising pertinent issues.

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The trainer leads participants through the steps of thorough hand-washing.

Some of the topics covered during training were as follows:

– How to wash hands, and how to build a hand-washing station from a jerrycan, string, sticks, and netting

– Good and bad hygiene practices

– Dish racks and how to build them

– Keeping animals under control

– Management and maintenance of the hand pump

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Community members learn how to build hand-washing stations and each leave with their own!

Diagrams portraying unhealthy practices such as walking barefoot, open defecation, outdoor urination, and eating with unwashed hands were all shown.

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Women hold illustrations as other participants discuss the behaviors they see.

Stories of disease transmission were also worked into a session. Sierra Leoneans are accustomed to shaking hands, which happens to be a prime way that germs spread. We created an object lesson that clearly shows the effect of shaking dirty hands: The trainer rubbed a sticky, glittering powder on her palm and passed around the audience shaking hands with all. The glitter transferred to their hands by that action, and it continued to spread. Since germs are tiny, tiny parasites that cannot be seen with our naked eye, the people were warned that this same transfer is happening with germs.

From our assessments as team members, we could say that the overall results from training were good. Before training, the community was not used to hand-washing at all. But after the training, they started washing their fruits like mangoes before eating. They did not only participated during the training, but they also normalized what they learned. We saw evidence that they continued to use the hand-washing station that was constructed under the mango tree during training. Without a shadow of doubt, we can proudly say that the training was very successful.

Mr. Musa Dumbuya is a 65-year-old farmer who attended all of the training sessions. “This community has never benefited from such training. Although we had little knowledge about personal hygiene, but I personally can confess that what I have gained so far from your method of training has been an eye opener for me. The diagrams used during the training for both healthy and unhealthy community as well as diseases transmission, were all practical. Indeed the lessons learnt were so straightforward. What I can still remember is the simple use of the technology in managing the use of water. I mean the tippy tap (hand-washing station). I was really impressed about how we were taught to make it and use it as well. I will always remember that,” he shared.

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Mr. Musa Dumbuya

Project Result: A Reliable Water Well

We spearheaded a new method of converting the bottom of a hand-dug well into a borehole. When we started this process, the well was at 40 feet with one foot of water.

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Manually drilling through the bottom of the hand-dug well.

The team sets up the tripod and lowers the wooden platform into the well. The platform sits on top of the well casing and provides a solid working platform. The team now lowers 6″ PVC casing down the well and through the center of the platform. The casing now rests on the bottom of the well. The team lowers the bucket auger and drill rod into the 6″ casing, and the guys begin to drill into the bottom of the well. They raise the drill out of the casing at different intervals to empty the material out of the drill bit. As they do this, they drive down the 6″ casing to keep the hole open.

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As more is drilled, more temporary casing is lowered to support the sides.

The team drilled for three days until they met their target depth of 60 feet. One full length of 4¼” casing was screened and then lowered into the temporary 6″ casing. Four buckets of filter pack were poured between the two casings, after which the temporary casing can be hoisted out. Iron rods also had to be cemented to the well lining to fortify it, keeping the PVC straight from top to bottom. The team welded a collar at the pump based to further fortify this casing.

The well was manually developed by bailing; two men bailed for three days. The yield was then tested with a submersible pump at a depth of 55 feet. It pumped for one hour with no drop in static water level. The team measured the discharge, and determined that they pumped 875 gallons! That means the yield is around 54 liters per minute.

With those good results, the well pad platform and walls were bricked up and the mechanics installed the stainless steel India MkII pump.

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Yes, even installing the pump takes some muscle!

The entire time our team was there, the community was very hospitable and helpful. They not only opened their homes to accommodate our drilling crew members, but also provided other things like manpower and overnight security for the equipment. Their hospitality cannot be exaggerated. According to their tradition, they welcome strangers by giving them kola nut. They would always come and provide mangoes and other fruits for the drilling team while they worked.

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The drill team shows off the kola nuts gifted by the community. We wish we could send you some!

But there were a few challenges worth mentioning. There was a language barrier, because usually people in a Susu Village can speak both Themne and Susu. However, the majority of people here only speak Susu, and we struggled to get translations into our Themne language. Secondly, this is a farming community. When weather is good for farming, farmers prefer to be out in their fields. We had to walk all the way to the swamp to gather people (including the village chief) for training, causing delays in our schedule.

Chief Pa Abu Conteh said, “My prayers every day is for God to keep me alive for some time so that I can continue to drink from this new water source in my community. When I think of the present water source we have, the more I become grateful… At this stage of my old age, words will actually fail me if am to express how far reaching the benefit of this new borehole water… will be. One thing, though that I would like to be thankful and grateful to God for, is the relief that generations yet unborn will have to experience. Of course happily, they will not have to suffer for better and safer clean drinking water as it has been before. On behalf of my people and other community elders, all what we have to say to the organization of Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project is a big thank you. What else can we give in return? Except to maintain the pump. We thank God for such a wonderful humanitarian gesture your water project organization has ever extended to our community. We will always be thankful to your organization.”

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03/22/2017: Mapeh Community Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, Mapeh Community in Sierra Leone will soon have a source of safe, clean water. A dry well is being deepened 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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01/09/2017: Update From The Water Project

You’ve been assigned to a project! Check it out! And we’ll share more once the work begins!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Port Loko, Lokomasama, Mapeh
ProjectID: 5105
Install Date:  07/12/2017


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.