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Location: Sierra Leone

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 360 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status: 

Community Profile & Stories

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

The Tombo Community was founded by two brothers; the elder brother settled at Tombo Bana and the younger brother settled at Tombo Lol. Bana is a Temne word meaning big and Lol means small. Back in that time, everyone was either a farmer or fisherman. Before the colonial era, whoever was strong enough could claim any piece of land depending on the amount of people they had to fight for it. This being the case, the Temne men were and are still known for marrying as many women as possible. Their energy to reproduce at a fast rate gives them the upper hand in taking over any community in which they reside. There is power in quantity, especially between warring tribes that fight for dominance.

Early in the morning the men, women and children wake up for the day’s hustle. It is a hustle to live in most communities in Sierra Leone, but you will always find a handful of people sitting around doing nothing.

The children carry the burden of the house chores, it is an early morning ritual for them to fetch water before doing anything else. Some men without jobs get up at any time they like, depending on handouts. The farming they had relied on is no longer the large scale it used to be, with the population increase and selling of farmland.

Water Situation

There are two protected wells in Tombo Bana. We monitor one of them, and check out the other while we’re there. The organization that installed that well does not visit or take responsibility for any maintenance. That well is used on a daily basis, though it hasn’t been chlorinated for years.

We’ve been visiting our well quarterly, which has informed us that is also has its own issues. Half of the year, everything seems to be in order and the community is happily drawing clean water. The other half of the year, we start getting phone calls from leadership in Tombo Bana. When we visit in person, the problem is obvious: the well sits abandoned, and when we try the pump no water comes out. Opening up the well to see water levels revealed that during the dry months of the year, there’s no water in there.

Only half of the battle was getting this community clean water, but now the second half is making sure it’s dependable. When this well isn’t functional, community members must crowd the un-chlorinated well. But what’s most unfortunate is that many locals prefer avoiding the crowd and use the swamp for their water needs instead. We met a little boy who told us he uses the swamp when our well is down; he says that he’s not worried because the water is clear enough to see the bottom.

Sanitation Situation

The majority of households in Tombo Bana have their own pit latrine, though the only decent one belongs to the chief. He’s got his lined with tiles! The rest are made of large plastic bags sown together and wrapped around sticks. Most of the pits are left uncovered, attracting flies and other pests throughout the day. Snakes are also attracted to the warmth, making most community members too scared to use the latrine at night in the dark. The remaining families that don’t have pit latrines share them with their neighbor.

Hand-washing is neglected here. No homes have hand-washing stations, and only half of homes have other helpful sanitation tools like dish racks and clotheslines.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered for three days in a row.

Since no hand-washing stations are here, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach community members how to build a tippy tap (a hand-washing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for hand-washing demonstrations, and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.

These trainings will also strengthen the water user committee that manages and maintains this well. They enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.

Plans: Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul is dry for four months every year 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 all 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 throughout the entire year.

Recent Project Updates

07/21/2017: Tombo Bana Community's Well Restored With Clean Water

Tombo Bana 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 Tombo Bana 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 on the chief’s veranda. Training gathered a great crowd. On the first day of training, there were 65 people. The second day, we had forty- five people in attendance. The third and final day of the training, the attendance increased to sixty-five people, as it was with day one. It was encouraging to see a considerable number of children in attendance, too.

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Learning each step of proper hand-washing.

Training topics were selected to address what was observed during our baseline survey. This community is in great need of hand-washing stations. They quickly forgot about the regular hand-washing needed during the Ebola outbreak.

The agenda was created after our staff took a baseline survey of hygiene standards here. 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

There was also a demonstration where the trainer went around shaking hands with all in attendance. Each individual noticed a glittery shine on their hands after the handshakes. This introduced a practical lesson: What are you seeing on your hands? They answer by saying “we are seeing shine-shine on our hands,” and that’s when the facilitators bring home the idea that these signify germs. We are always vulnerable to them, and need to keep clean by practicing good personal hygiene. This set us up for a strong transition into how to make hand-washing stations.

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The trainer leads participants in making hand-washing stations that will be installed in their homes.

They also learned how to make ORS (oral rehydration solution) and that they should take it when they get a headache; headaches are common here and a result of water shortage.

Diagrams portraying unhealthy practices such as walking barefoot, open defecation, outdoor urination, and eating with unwashed hands were all shown and discussed in groups. What behaviors make a community healthy, and what others are counterproductive?

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Participants help out the trainer by holding pictures of daily activities so that they can discuss how each impacts their health.

Fatmata Bangura is a 45-year-old woman who has been suffering from infection for a long time. She said that due to her lack of proper knowledge on personal hygiene, she contracted this infection. According to Fatmata, on the first day of the hygiene training, she gained insight as to the cause. She told us, “With my age, this is the first important lesson I have learnt during the training about personal hygiene: How to take very good care about myself and my children. On the first day of the training, I learnt that after using the toilet, I should properly clean myself and also do likewise to my children.” Most common sicknesses can be prevented by just getting in the habit of frequent hand-washing.

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 47 feet with absolutely no water.

The team sets up the tripod and pulley over the well. Depending on the diameter of the well, the team either drills from inside the well or from ground level. The team will work from ground level here in Tombo Bana; they’ve resorted to this method the last couple of projects, and now prefer to work out in the open instead of being confined inside the well.

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Drilling from the top of the well sometimes requires some extra height and leverage.

First, they install 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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Emptying white sand from the drill bit.

The team removed a lot of clean, white sand. They continued to drill and found sand and plenty of water. They stopped at their target depth of 72 feet.

One full 4¼” casing was slotted for screen and lowered inside the temporary casing from 52 to 70 feet. Five buckets of filter pack were poured between the two casings. The team could then hoist out the temporary casing.

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Filter pack poured inside helps keep the water clean and stabilizes the pump’s casing.

Iron rods were cemented into 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 in the pump base to further 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 60 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 910 gallons. The static water level didn’t drop a bit, giving this well a huge yield of 56 liters per minute.

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Water from the yield test is directed into large buckets so they can measure the quantity pulled during a full hour of borehole usage.

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

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Mr. Dauda Sessay is an active member of his community, and was there to witness the clean water restored to his well. He said, “If I can recall what causes problem in this community, has to do with the lack of proper drinking water. On many occasions, both children and elderly people have lost their lives through the outbreak of cholera and diarrhea – all because of lack of pure and safe drinking water. Our children normally fight each other when they go in search of water. So I am with the conviction that with the presence of this newly rehabilitated water well  will help maintain good health. As this well is strategically located free from animal contamination and bad taste, I believe our problems to all our waterborne disease is now over.”

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05/15/2017: Tombo Bana Community Project Underway

Tombo Bana Community in Sierra Leone will soon have a source of safe, clean water that works year round, thanks to your generous donation. A well that is dry for almost half of every year 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.

Thank You for caring for the thirsty!

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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, Tombo Bana
ProjectID: 5114
Install Date:  07/21/2017


First Congregational Church of Chatham
Braren Family Foundation
1 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.