Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 491 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/26/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

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

Benke Community and the surrounding communities have benefited from the generosity of the catholic church more than any other area in the chiefdom. This street and area is named after its first inhabitant, Mars Turay, an employee of the church. In the olden days, this part of the chiefdom was used as a foot path for the traders that came from Lungi Town to sell their fruits and vegetables to the other traders in Suctarr.

Benke Community has grown immensely over the years. Now almost all of its streets are passable with a vehicle or motorcycle, making the flow of people and their businesses a lot easier. The community has two churches and one mosque; a rarity, since there are normally more mosques than churches.

The community is made up of petty traders, health workers, teachers and gardeners. More produce come from this part of the country than anywhere else. The community used to only have the nearby Saint Augustine Junior Secondary School's well for their water supply. The priests and teachers witnessed how disruptive it was to have the surrounding community constantly coming to fetch water; the children were disturbed from their lessons on a minute by minute basis. With so much outside interference, the chances of the children learning were slim to none. The church decided to construct a well for the community to lessen the burden on their school's well. One of the teachers lived nearby in the same neighborhood, so he decided to build the well on his property with the promise that even if he is long gone, the well will be left for the community. The deal was struck, and the well was built. Much later, the first resident of the community has left the legacy of a well and a street named after him.

Water Situation

We met Benke Community a few years after this well's installation, when it needed important repairs and development. Our staff came alongside the community and helped them make repairs, also offering our support in hygiene and sanitation training. We committed ourselves to continuous clean water in this community, and have been back several times to visit. Beyond our visits, we started receiving extra calls from the community between the months of March and July. In March, it started taking locals a long, dedicated effort to make water come out of the pump. By April, no water would come out at all. After removing the pump and looking inside, our staff confirmed that during these drier months, there was no longer any water in the well.

We've also visited this well on Turay Street when it is serving the community, and it's amazing to see how many people rely on it. Whenever there's water flowing, people have their jerrycans lined up all the way out to the street.

After years of service, the environment changed in a way that negatively impacted the water sources in Benke Community. The wells sit abandoned until the rains return, and even then it takes a while for the water to recharge. To capture the lighter rains, community members put empty containers outside.

There are other wells in this community, but they have similar issues. We will be overhauling both this well and one of the other three to ensure that the well perseveres through the dry season! When our well on Turay Street dries up, women and children are forced to wait at line in one of the other wells in a different part of the community. This search for other working water sources puts women and children in danger as they walk along less familiar busy roads.

Sanitation Situation

Over half of households here have a pit latrine. It's interesting what passes as a latrine; many of them are holes in the ground surrounded by plastic sewn together and held up with sticks. When the wind blows hard enough, one can see right into the latrine!

Less than a quarter of households have hand-washing stations, and less than half have simple tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Garbage here is considered a commodity, so it is treated with care. Huge pits are dug for everyone in the community, and it is burnt on a regular basis. The ashes and trash are distributed among the community's gardens and farms.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

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

Not many hand-washing stations were observed here. After our visit, 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 from March to July 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.

Project Updates

October, 2018: A Year Later: Benke Community, Turay Street

A year ago, generous donors helped restore water to a well in Benke Community, Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

August, 2017: Clean Water Restored in Benke Community

Benke 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 Benke 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

We recruited community members to attend hygiene and sanitation training with the help of Mr. Ansu. He used a megaphone to walk around the village and announce plans for training - and he even went back on the day of training to motivate as many people as possible. We knew that people would listen to Mr. Ansu as an influential voice in the area. We were also able to reach out to one of the local child health clubs to come and teach for a day, too.

Nothing is for sure when it's the rainy season in Sierra Leone. It's always more convenient to hold hygiene and sanitation training outside, since the open area will allow for more participants. While we held training in front of Mammy Haja's home on the first day and then under a mango tree in front of Mrs. Susan's house on the second day, since she lives next to the new well being drilled. We had to move inside Mammy Haja's parlor on the third day, since the rains came.

Attendance was great with about 60 people each day. This included both adults and children, all who listened and participated. They asked meaningful questions about how to solve health challenges in their community, and we were able to teach them specific to those issues.

2 sierraleone5115 training

Participants mimic the trainer as they learn about how to properly wash hands.

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.

3 sierraleone5115 making hand-washing stations

Community members made hand-washing stations with all easily accessible and affordable materials.

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?

After training, we noticed that a majority of homes had erected hand-washing stations as we taught them. Mrs. Susan Caulker was a housewife who was reminded of things she learned during the Ebola epidemic. "There is something about us Sierra Leoneans I have leant: We are quick to forget. Before the Ebola crisis, we had knowledge about the importance of hand-washing in our lives but we neglected it. Not until when we experienced Ebola outbreak in our country then we realized that hand-washing was important. Now that the Ebola scourge is over, we have forgotten about hand-washing again. I pray that this time round, we will not only become hearers but doers of what we have learnt during the three days' hygiene training."

11 sierraleone5115 Susan Caulker

Mrs. Susan Caulker

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 54 feet deep with three feet of 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 Benke; 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. This also allows for the hand-pump to remain installed and usable. Since drilling is done within a new temporary casing, it doesn't affect the existing well or its water quality at all.

5 sierraleone5115 drilling

The team drilled deeper inside the temporary casing. When desired depth was reached, the temporary casing was removed.

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.

The team removed a lot of clean, white sand. They continued to drill and found plenty of water. They stopped at their target depth of 79 feet.

18 feet of 4¼" casing was slotted for screen and lowered inside the temporary casing from 55 to 75 feet. Five buckets of filter pack were poured between the two casings. The team could then hoist out the temporary 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 70 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 650 gallons. The static water level didn’t drop a bit, giving this well a nice yield of 40 liters per minute.

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

10 sierraleone5115 pump installation

The only challenge during this project was a misunderstanding between the landowner and the community. The landowner's idea was that since its his land, he should be the well caretaker. He also believed that he should be the one collecting all usage fees. The community people stood firm that since he signed papers making it a public well, that a public group should manage and maintain this water point. The project was put on pause while we mitigated these issues, until it was finally resolved.

42-year-old Alimamy Kamara has always managed to contribute to the development of his community in his own little way. He said, "I am very happy for this project. Now we have a good water source! For long time we have been suffering to fetch water from the swamp, but now we can be proud of a newly rehabilitated well in my community. Indeed my dream has been accomplished..."

12 sierraleone5115 clean water

A celebration was held on the Saturday afternoon following completion of the well. It was such a colorful and exciting event that took place - It was amazing to see the whole crowed marching with banners in their hands all the way from Mrs. Susan Caulker’s compound down to the well. They were so happy that they had a young man named Ibrahim bring his drums. Everything became so unorganized; the shouting, singing and dancing became so unbearable that the chief and a few elders had to work together to get the people to calm down! We brought a drinking glass to be filled with clean water from the pump. Mr. Ansu, the chairman of the water committee, finished off this glass of clean water. He spoke words of gratefulness and encouragement in front of the community, describing how far they had come together by just getting clean water. He got so excited that he even lifted a clean bucket of water up on his head, just as the women do! This is how the entire community of Benke feels now that clean, reliable water has been restored to this well.

Project Photos

Project Type

Hand-dug wells have been an important source of water throughout human history! Now, we have so many different types of water sources, but hand-dug wells still have their place. Hand dug wells are not as deep as borehole wells, and work best in areas where there is a ready supply of water just under the surface of the ground, such as next to a mature sand dam. Our artisans dig down through the layers of the ground and then line the hole with bricks, stone, or concrete, which prevent contamination and collapse. Then, back up at surface level, we install a well platform and a hand pump so people can draw up the water easily.

A Year Later: Benke Community, Turay Street

October, 2018

“The biggest changes in this community is that we have 98% coverage of toilet facilities, clotheslines, and dish racks. We also work with child health clubs to promote health and hygiene practices.” – Mr. Alhaji Bangura

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Benke Community, Turay Street.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Benke Community, Turay Street maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

A year ago, generous donors helped restore water to a well in Benke Community, Sierra Leone. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from Omoh Emmanuel with you.

Life in this community has changed drastically when compared to past years. People are truly practicing hygiene here, and they take good care of the water point. With several interviews with different community members, we learned that people in this community don’t normally fall sick. Why? They answered saying that they always try to follow the hygiene and sanitation teachings we taught last year.

Mr. Alhaji Bangura is on the water user committee and has witnessed this among many other positive developments.

"The biggest changes in this community is that we have 98% coverage of toilet facilities, clotheslines, and dish racks. We also work with child health clubs to promote health and hygiene practices. Since your organization came and taught us about hygiene and sanitation, we try very hard to put things into practice," Mr. Bangura reported.

From left to right: Alhaji Bangura, Rabiatu Koroma, Omoh Emmanuel

"We are now boasting of good health in our community!"

Restoration of the well is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

Little Rabiatu Koroma also stopped by the well to get a jerrycan of water. She said that there is "easy, accessible safe drinking water" from this well.

Rabiatu and Mr. Bangura

Rabiatu now boasts of "good performance in my academic career because I can get to school on time."

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This functional well in Benke is changing many lives.

This is not possible without the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Benke Community, Turay Street maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Benke Community, Turay Street – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


Project Sponsor - Yakima Foursquare Church