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The Water Project : 1-sierraleone5107-dry-well

Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 164 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status: 

Community Profile & Stories

Welcome to the Community

One of the oldest villages in the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Ponka Village means “something small” in the language of the Bullomites. This is a predominately Muslim community with an average household of seven people. People get up early for prayers, with the men practicing the custom of washing their bodies at the stream beforehand. This practice forces some of these men to wake up by 4 AM to get washed, after which he will not talk to anyone until he is inside the mosque. After prayers, men walk around town and visit every house to see how each family fared through the night.

The children and women are up around the same time, but start with chores before going to the farm. The women in this village are the income earners. The men are only responsible for planting and clearing the field or swamp, leaving everything else to be done by the women.

Women in this village are known for two things: they are either pregnant or nursing young. There is a woman in this village who has twelve children! The rich history of the village and the endurance of their women has spread the rule of the paramount chief to other parts of the chiefdom. Women normally cannot claim any property left by their parents, but in this specific tribe, women have just as much right as the men.

Water Situation

There is a protected hand-dug well with a hand-pump, but it only provides water for part of the year. Since it is unreliable, community members have resorted to using two other sources.

Those living in Ponka Village rely on water from a swamp. There is also an open well at the end of the village, but that requires extra heavy lifting.

The swamp is a 60-minute walk from the center of the village. When fetching water from the swamp, people will wear shorts to wade in and dunk their containers under the surface. Many people in this village swear that the taste of the swamp’s water is much better than that from the open hand-dug well. But water drawn for drinking is the same water where clothes are laundered; just a few feet away from those fetching drinking water are bathers.

At the well, a large bucket is tied to the end of a rope. If you cannot lift twenty pounds up from the bottom of a 30-foot deep hole in the ground, then don’t bother.

Because drinking water in this community come from these two sources, waterborne diseases are common.

Sanitation Situation

Over 75% of homes have pit latrines, but they are in very poor condition. Many don’t have doors or roofs. Most people here go to the woods to relieve themselves.

There are no places to wash hands, and not many families have helpful tools like dish racks or clotheslines. Animals roam free, and are another reason disease spread so easily here.

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. Each family will need to make one of these and show they can use them before we begin the construction phase. We also require that every family have their own latrine.

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

07/13/2017: Ponka Village Well Flowing with Reliable, Clean Water

Ponka Village, 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 Ponka 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

All three days of hygiene training were held under the shade of a typical grass-thatched meeting hut. Community members are used to meeting here, and it’s also conveniently located near the well.

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Both children and adults gathered to learn about hygiene and sanitation. Here, they’re learning the steps of proper hand-washing.

The agenda was created after our staff took a baseline survey of hygiene standards here. A lot of training participants were directly invited by local leadership, while many others were drawn in at the last minute because of all the activity. There was a high turnout all three days, and great participation on behalf of the locals. The headman was so excited about some of the hygiene messages that he adopted them and decided to make them law. If a household doesn’t have a latrine, they will be fined 50,000 Leones!

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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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Happy to learn how to build a hand-washing station with jerrycans, string, and sticks!

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

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Participants volunteer to hold up illustrations for their friends to discuss.

Particularly for Ponka, we taught how to prepare an ORS (oral rehydration solution) and administer it to the dehydrated. Too many deaths result from people not getting a proper amount of clean water. Next, we taught about the proper use of bed nets. Most people were misusing their nets; as fences in the backyard gardens or as bathing towels.

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Bed nets should be used just on beds! When asleep, community members are particularly vulnerable to malaria-giving mosquito bites.

After training, we observed quick action as people disbursed to their homes to build helpful facilities like dish racks and latrines, especially since the chief has made latrines a law!

Keifallah Sesay said, “As head of the youth in this community, I personally benefited a lot from the three days’ hygiene as well as the evangelism training. I greatly appreciate it. In fact to show my appreciation, I will take upon myself to be the pioneer in the sustainability of the hygiene practices learnt during the training sessions. I would not like to see people suffer in this community because of failure in applying all the hygiene rules and laws we have been reminded of during the three days training. I will make sure that from time to time, I will go around in the community to sensitize the community people constantly so that the far-reaching benefit of the training will be realized by all in the community.”

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Keifallah Sesay

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 49 feet with absolutely no water.

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The team sets up the tripod and pulley over the well. Normally, the team would go down inside the well to drill it deeper, but it was decided to drill this well differently. The team will work from ground level. First, they installed 8″ PVC casing through the hatch cover down to the bottom of the well. This ensures that the drilling begins straight and also keeps the hole from collapsing. They connect the bucket auger drill bit to the drilling rod and lower it into the well, continuing to add more drill rods until they hit the bottom. Each drill rod is 18 feet in length and every time the team empties the bucket auger, they must reverse the process by disconnecting the rods until the drill bit can be emptied. This method is more labor intensive, but working from the top was much safer in this circumstance. There are different drill bits for different conditions, a special bit just for clay, one for sand, one for rocks and one combination bit for all three conditions.

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Drilling by hand is tedious, but it’s the only way we can make this hand-dug well into a reliable, non-seasonal water source.

At 57 feet rock was encountered, so the team changed to a 150-pound bit and dropped it on the rock repeatedly to break it. After several hours, they weren’t making any progress. They decided to move over two feet and try drilling again. Rock was encountered at the same place. The team assessed their progress and found a lot of water at that depth, so they moved on to the next step.

One full length of 4¼” casing was slotted for screen and lowered down inside the temporary casing. 2½ buckets of filter pack were poured in between the two casings. The team could then remove the temporary casing.

Iron rods were cemented in the well lining and attached to the casing to support the weight of the PVC and keep it straight from bottom to top. The team welded a collar into the pump base to help support the casing.

The well was developed by bailing; two men bailed by hand for three days to ensure proper development. The well could then be tested by installing a submersible pump at 55 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 875 gallons. The static water level didn’t change!

With this success, we could rebuild a new walled well pad and install the new stainless steel hand-pump.

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Chlorinating the well.

One morning at the end of May, the team arrived in Ponka to hand over the well to the community. When the painter finished the well wall, there was a joyous outburst from the expectant community members. There were shouts of joy all over the village. Young men, young women, elderly and children were all rejoicing over the completion of the well.

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04/20/2017: Ponka Village Project Underway

Ponka Village in Sierra Leone will soon have a source of safe, clean water because of your donation! 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, maps, 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, Kaffu Bullom, Lungi, Ponka
ProjectID: 5107
Install Date:  07/13/2017


Timberview Middle School
2 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.