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 Community
This is a busy fishing community full of fishermen, traders and boat-makers coming from the four surrounding islands. There is activity all hours of the day with women, men and children each trying to get the things they need to survive for the day. Every morning the routine begins all over again; getting up all hours of the day and night has become so normal. With such crowded households, some men and women even prefer to sleep outside.
The bustling life at the village is too much for the older men and women who decide to find other sources of income, they have endured their days of hard labor and it is now the young peoples' turn. The elderly have decided to take less tasking jobs like boiling salt water to process salt. The process is passed on from family member to family member. The salt that is produced lacks iodine, so many of the people who use it develop goiter.
There is a protected well that we monitor in the village, but the overcrowding is unbearable for many busy community members. There are even residents of other nearby islands who bring their boats over to fetch water. Most times, locals will justify their need to use the open, unprotected well that is much closer to the wharf. People from that area find the distance and easy access much more attractive than walking to and waiting at the safe water source.
This open, contaminated well has an open hatch for the majority of the day, and there is not a minute that goes by when it sits unused. A string has been tied to an empty container, and that container has been cut at the top to allow water to enter more quickly.
With hundreds living in and coming in and out of Rogbere, it's important there be a sustainable, year round safe water source. However, our monitoring of the protected well has revealed a rocky history. Beyond our visits, we've also gotten calls from community leaders asking for repairs. Our repair teams have visited and found that it's not just a simple problem with the pump; it's actually low water level that is rendering this water unusable during the dry season. Community members share that this well is dry from March to early August, and during those months they have no alternative but to lower the bucket into the other unprotected well or walk to the swamp for surface water.
Water is fetched and stored in open barrels and drums which are most often used to clean the daily catch. Fishing communities like this one produce some of the dirtiest water containers; whether they be used for cleaning, cooking, or drinking.
The latrines for fishermen that live in this community are either the edges of boats or the beach. For the homes that are far from the wharf, bags are sewn together and suspended between sticks to serve as walls, and a hole is dug in the ground. There is no roof and no cover over the pit, and timber is thrown over the hole for the person to "walk the plank." Because of these poor bathroom conditions, open defecation is a huge issue in Rogbere. The waste that isn't properly disposed of can spread to other locations and endanger the entire community.
The children are most affected by poor hygiene standards; some of them are left with no clothes to scavenge for leftover fish and crabs.
There are no hand-washing stations in any local households. Only a quarter of homes have helpful tools like clotheslines and dish racks to dry belongings safely up off the ground. Most of the garbage here is thrown into the sea.
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 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. The same thing will be done for dish racks.
Other sessions will teach about how important it is to have a well-built and well-cleaned latrine. They should have roofs and the pit should be covered when not in use. Before construction work can begin, every single household must have their own pit 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 is dry from March to August and 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 sufficient water column that 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.