Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 100 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2017

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 07/09/2024

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

The main source of income for most families in Royema Community is begging and looking for handouts. There is a constant cry for jobs, but how can a person find full time employment without the knowledge and training to get it?

The meaning of Royema is "choose where you want." The land used to sit uninhabited, and in the old days, plots of land were given out for free. Now a plot of land costs millions! This specific area was formerly known as Keytorr, but it was recently renamed to Kambees because of a businessman who relocated to the community. He had a guest house that became famous in the chiefdom, and after he moved here, the community decided to take the name of the guest house called "Kambees."

The community is made up of petty traders, farmers and airport workers. Nobody sleeps past 5 AM in the morning, the hustle and bustle starting with a pot of leftover rice and potato leaves, cassava leaves, or sprinkled pepper with palm oil. When there are no leftovers, a local cookery shop will do just fine. A plate of rice and stew will hold anyone over until the evening meal, if there even is any. Not many families can afford to cook everyday, some will settle for anything to fill the stomach.

Water Source

We discovered a well in New Kambees a few years ago, which needed some major pump repairs to get up and running again. We stepped in to assist the community, and also offered hygiene and sanitation training to help them improve health. Without the proper treatment and storage, clean water fetched from the well won't stay clean for long!

But over the course of quarterly visits, we discovered another issue that was keeping this community from having clean water. During March, April, May, and June, no water comes out of the pump! The environment has changed since the well was dug, and it now dries up during the dry season. When this well in New Kambees goes down, it is the children who suffer most. They travel long distances to fetch water from other communities. Alternatively, community members choose to forego the long trip for safe water and fetch water from nearby contaminated sources instead. These include an unprotected shallow well and the swamp. The swamp water is a slight white color and smells like mud. Tadpoles can even be seen swimming around!

A handful of households can afford packaged water during the dry season, while the rest depend on that contaminated shallow well and the swamp.

Sanitation Situation

Over half of households have a pit latrine. Families who don't have their own share with a neighbor. Latrines are the least-valued facility in Sierra Leone. The ones we observed are made of plastic bags sewn together and wrapped around sticks. When community members have to use the bathroom during the night, they go in a bucket in the home, waiting until the morning to empty it in the latrine pit.

There are no hand-washing stations in New Kambees for someone to clean up after using the latrine, dumping waste, before cooking, and whenever. A majority of households dispose of their garbage in the bushes surrounding their property. Less than half of the households here have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry their belongings safely.

Mr. Alie Bangura said, "We have the occasional runny stomach, I figure it is from the different types of foods we eat everyday. Cholera is not our portion; the very persistent illness that is constantly affecting us is malaria and typhoid. We eat foods that are not properly preserved, all cooking is done outdoors with flies and animals strolling around the kitchen. It goes as far as animals putting their beaks or mouths into the food, God only knows what they could have eaten before they contaminate the food."

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 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 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: Royema Community, New Kambees

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to restore water to Royema Community. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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: Royema Community Project Complete

Royema 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 Royema 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 met with local leaders to schedule convenient dates for hygiene and sanitation training. Pa Osman the Imam agreed to pass on the plans to the rest of the community through his position at the mosque, since the majority of Royema is Muslim. Mrs. Haja Fatmata Koroma agreed to host training in her front yard, since she has a large mango tree that provides enough shade.

But when it came time for training, a tragedy occurred. A well was being dug in the community by a former worker of ours who became an independent contractor. He was hired by the local church to dig a hand-dug well. He was digging the well in the heavy rains, and as he was digging the top layer of ground suddenly gave way and fell down upon him. He died instantly. News about his death actually caught the whole community off guard. This incident happened on the second day of our hygiene training in this community, so the funeral and burial arrangements interrupted. Nonetheless, we wanted to honor him and thus rescheduled dates for the second and third day of training. Even with these delays, turnout was good.

2 sierraleone5117 training

Many people here were using mosquito nets as fences! We taught them why and how to use these in their homes.

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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Participants constructing their own 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?

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Community members helped our trainer show illustrations of good and bad hygiene practices to stimulate discussion.

Knowledge can give tremendous power to its owner. But the lack of it always limits. Sixty-year-old Mariama Turay humbly accepted this fact. "Truly, we had no better knowledge on hygiene in our own location. This is a new settlement and we are farmers who are always left with little time to take proper care of our bodies after our heavy and tiring day’s farm or swamp work... But we thank all of you for helping us make adjustment in our times so that we can attend to our personal hygiene as well as the upkeep of our environment before going to our farms. Indeed from the training, you have given us knowledge about the importance of personal and also that of community hygiene," she said.

Interview Mariama Turay 5117

Mrs. Mariama Turay

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 31 feet deep with two 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 Royema; 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.

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Drilling the well from ground level - You can see all of the red clay that has spilled out during this process.

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 met clay which quickly turned to sand. They continued to drill and remove sand up to 53 feet. There was plenty of water at this point, so the team decided to stop there.

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Emptying the drill bit.

18 feet of 4¼" casing was slotted for screen and lowered inside the temporary casing from 34 to 52 feet. Four 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 four days to ensure proper development. The well could then be tested by installing a submersible pump at 45 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 910 gallons. The static water level of 27 feet didn't drop at all!  We were able to calculate that this well has a nice yield of 56 liters per minute.

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

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Hooking up the cylinder to the rods.

Mr. Amara Sumah Keita was there to witness so much clean water flowing from the pump. "This rehabilitation work has proved to be a great help to us. We have been drinking water from the swamp - an unsafe and unhealthy source. Most of our people have been infected through drinking water from that source. The Muslim Agency came to our aid at one time and dug a well in our community because of a mosque... However, it reached to a time when the taste from the well was no longer good. So we stopped drinking water from it and returned back to the water from the swamp. How happy we are that at last Mariatu’s Hope has come to our aid. We are going to move on with better changes in our lives!"

Interview Amara Sumah Keita 5117

Mr. Amara Sumah Keita

We met together to hand the well back to the community. They and their water committee will be in charge of managing and maintaining the well, calling us if they ever encounter difficult challenges. We will also visit four times a year to see how they're doing. We pumped clean water from the well into cups that we then handed out to community members - a symbol of what was happening that day.

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Smiling about this clean water!

45-year-old Mrs. Omoregie was there to celebrate with us. She said, "I have been in Makeni for many years and yet I have not seen any water project like this. The well is not only rehabilitated but is also monitored in case of any breakdown or malfunction... We have the understanding that water is life and I have proven it because we cannot do anything without water! All our house chores depend on the availability of clean water. We have observed that this project actually has a developmental goal for our community. The long distances we use to trek in search of pure drinking water... will be things of the past."

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.

We are going to move on with better changes in our lives!

Mr. Amara Sumah Keita

A Year Later: Royema Community, New Kambees

October, 2018

“Before, I found it difficult to have clean water for ablution [before prayers]. But now there is a protected well, I use clean water for ablution and bathing,” Mrs. Koroma shared.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Royema, New Kambees.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Royema, New Kambees 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, your generous donation enabled us to restore water to Royema Community. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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 – and we’re excited to share this one from local team member Omoh Emmanuel with you.

This project brings light, life, and friendship to this community. Since the time this well was drilled much deeper, there has been rapid building construction and development going on in this community. Hygiene practices are better than ever, thanks to clean, reliable water that runs through the driest times.

Rehabilitation 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.

Mrs. Haja Koroma lives right by the well, making it convenient for her to care for it and keep it clean. If something goes wrong, we hear from Mrs. Koroma first. We talked to her about some of the improvements she's personally experienced now that she has clean, reliable water.

"The biggest change that has happened in my community over the years is having safe and clean water. As for my own point of view, hygiene is the ability to have access to safe and sufficient clean water. Before, I found it difficult to have clean water for ablution [before prayers]. But now there is a protected well, I normally use clean water for ablution and bathing," Mrs. Koroma shared.

Water drains into a garden area for irrigation.

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.

6-year-old Hajaratu Koroma agreed with Mrs. Koroma, saying that she feels much safer having good water nearby. Her parents are happy because she can fetch water quickly by herself so that chores are completed quickly, too.

From left to right: Mrs. Haja Koroma, Hajaratu, Omoh Emmanuel.

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 well in Royema is changing many lives.

This is only possible because of 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 Royema, New Kambees 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 Royema, New Kambees – 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 - Waiokeola Congregational Church