Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 285 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/03/2024

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

This area of Benke Community was established by Reverend Father Albert in 2002. The dry well that this project will repair sits on Kelleh Compound. The compound was built by the Catholic Church for Mr. Kelleh Mansaray. Mr. Mansaray was the artist for the church, and he was given this house and land as compensation.  Years later, all of his children make a living doing the same kind of work their father did. Here, t-shirts are printed on by hand, which brings in relatively good money. The children get up early in the morning to scout for their next client. Sometimes, people even come from other chiefdoms to seek their expert hands. The old father can now only look up to his children; his legs are tired and the light shining from his eyes is no longer bright.

Many other members of the surrounding Benke Community have not learned a trade. They have to settle for handouts or go to the market to swap  fruits and vegetables. They get up early in the morning to wait for anyone who can give them some money or food. With so much fertile land in Sierra Leone, only a few hard workers make use of it.

Water Situation

The well marked for this rehabilitation project sits in front of the old man's house. The community comes in and out of Kelleh Compound to get their water.

But according to our quarterly monitoring visits, the well only works for part of the year. During the driest months, which begin in March or April and can stretch into August, there's no water in the well. Over the years, this well has become highly dependent on the rain. The well caretaker locks the pump and only allows the surrounding community members to use it for a few hours a day. This allows the well's water to recharge and continue to work throughout any given week. But the situation in the end of May, June, and July is critical; there is no clean water available in this area of Benke, and locals have to rely on swamp water.

There is also a school that neighbors Kelleh Compound, and they don't have their own water source. The students suffer the most when this well goes down, walking long distances to fetch drinking water.

The swamp's water is mixed with clay. Skin is discolored after drinking, which is a sure sign that there are parasites in the water. Children and the elderly suffer most from diarrhea, bloated stomachs, and runny noses. Cases of typhoid are reported, and malaria rates rise as the community resorts to the swamp during the dry months.

Sanitation Situation

The typical latrines in Sierra Leone are made of plastic bags wrapped around some sticks with palm leaves put on top as a roof. The door is a piece of cloth tied at the entrance. The pit is dug no more than twenty feet, and an opening no more than six inches is left at the top. The old folks who are not able to squat use a portable container as a latrine, and its waste is later thrown down the latrine. A handful of households still don't have their own pit latrine, choosing to share with their neighbors.

Less than a quarter of households have a designated private place for bathing. Less than half have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines for drying their belongings safely off the ground. In a large community such as this, garbage is thrown in a pile. When it gets unbearably high, garbage is burnt. But in the meantime, garbage is blown around by the wind and dug through by dogs and other scavengers.

There are absolutely no hand-washing stations in this area. John Bainey is a teacher who lives in this community. He said, "The community is littered with trash, children running around with no shoes or clothes on their backs. Children are infested with worms due to exposure to the bare ground. The children are left running barefooted, stepping on dog poop, chickens and other domesticated animals. People and animals sleep under the same roof, the smell coming from sheep, goats and the smell of urine takes up the whole house. The long exposure to bad smells causes lung damage to the children. There are children afflicted with asthma and other breathing conditions that if left untreated will lead to their death."

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

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

No 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 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, even through the dry months. The community is so excited to have this project as this season begins!

Project Updates

September, 2018: A Year Later: Benke Community

A year ago, generous donors helped bring safe, reliable water to 12 Brima Lane 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: Benke Community Restored with Clean Water

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

Mr. Bangura was elected chairperson of the water committee. He was the one responsible for letting community members know about the upcoming hygiene and sanitation training. We also contacted a community leader, Mr. John, to recruit more participants. He worked hard to do so, and we think the great turnout was thanks to his efforts. There were 40 adults and 20 children. People even remembered to bring empty containers in order to build their own hand-washing stations!

Training took place nearby Mr. John's house under the shade of a large mango tree. It started raining halfway through, so we had to move inside of a nearby primary school.


Children and adults being led through the steps of hand-washing. Don't forget to scrub between fingers!

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. This is when we brought in the St. Augustine Child Health Club to teach the steps of hand-washing and how to build the hand-washing stations using an empty container, string, and sticks.

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The child health club from a local school is helping these community members construct hand-washing stations.

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?

4 sierraleone5116 training

Participants came up to the front to help us hold these pictures of good and bad hygiene practices, while the rest of participants discussed them.

We saw a change in behavior right after training. People took down the mosquito nets they were wrongly using as garden fences and brought them in the house for their own use. They brought home their new hand-washing stations and hung them up outside of their latrines. Bushes were being cleared and litter picked up around their homes. We look forward to visiting this community to monitor the uptake of this new information!

We met one woman who attended all three days and looks forward to using this new knowledge to be a good influence among her neighbors. "I am so happy about the outcome of this training. I am Mrs. Famata Akai, a counselor to be. I don’t want the effort of Mariatu’s Hope alongside the Child Health Club from St. Augustine Secondary School C.H.C. to go in vain. I believe the effect of the training will save the lives of many more. Indeed the training is a blessing. Personally, I will make myself available in order to keep reminding people in the community not to forget about applying the principles of hygiene. I will go from door to door alongside the head of the community to ensure that the community abides by all the precautions, laws and rules of hygiene."

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These individuals are on the leadership committee that is trained on how to manage and maintain the water point.

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 61 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. However, with so little water in the well, the pump could only draw water for a few hours a day.

8 sierraleone5116 drilling

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 clay from the drill bit.

The team removed a lot of clean, white sand. They continued to drill and started pulling up sand mixed with clay, then black sand. This black sand contains a mix of charcoal and petrified wood, making the water undrinkable. We backed up to where the water quality was good, stopping at a total depth of 82 feet.

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It takes a team full of brute strength to drill a well by hand!

15 feet of 4¼" casing was slotted for screen and lowered inside the temporary casing from 65 to 80 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 75 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 455 gallons. The static water level dropped just a bit - three feet - and it took just three minutes to recharge to its full capacity.  We were able to calculate that this well has a nice yield of 24 liters per minute; four liters above the maximum a pump can produce.

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Pumping out water to test the yield.

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

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Connecting the rods.

The only challenges between training and well construction were the busyness of Ramadan and rainy weather. These caused some delays, but were nothing when matched with the persistence of the community and our team.

Reflecting on how difficult it had always been to get safe drinking water, Teacher John Bangura said, "Truly speaking, it had been a great problem for us in this community to get access to pure drinking water. We are far away from the stream where the majority fetches water. Our community is densely populated and there are fewer water supplies. But since our well has been rehabilitated by Mariatu's Hope, we are thankful. Moreover, the present water source is safe for drinking and cannot be compared to the previous source!"

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This woman is the first to test the pump after its installation. Success!

We scheduled a celebration for this renewed source of clean water, but showed up to disappointment. There were only nine people gathered there around the well! But a few moments later, people started coming; some were playing music, some were dancing. Our team shared some encouraging words, reminding them of their responsibilities in taking good care of their new water source, and to practice what they learned during hygiene and sanitation training. Some community leaders also shared. When Mr. Baima had finished addressing everyone, we started hearing the music of a brass band approaching from the distance. It was the band from St. Augustine! This was a huge surprise, and we all danced with the community for about an hour longer.

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, 12 Brima Lane

August, 2018

This community has reliable water from a well that no longer goes dry!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Benke Community, Brima Lane 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 bring safe, reliable water to 12 Brima Lane 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 our partner, Madieu Turay, with you.

"The well was normally dry during the dry season, but since the intervention in our community we are now boasting a yearly water well, not a seasonable water well," John M’Baina, a teacher and the hygiene coordinator of the well, said.

Indeed they have benefited so much over the past year. Their hygiene and sanitation practices were very poor but since the project, lifestyles have changed. We are now seeing household items like handwashing stations, tippy tap rubbers, enclosed kitchens, clotheslines, and more.

Well construction is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project and Mariatu’s Hope are 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.

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 Community is changing many lives.

"My life has changed positively in a way that I did not waste time in fetching water and also my hygiene and sanitation practice grow every day," Sahr Bangura, a 15-year-old boy, said.

This is not possible without the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, Mariatu’s Hope, 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, Brima Lane 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, Brima Lane – 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.


Nandansons Charitable Foundation
Potomac Heights Baptist Church
Elizabethtown College Senior Class Gift Campaign for Water