Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 467 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 10/24/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

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 School

Gbainty Bunlor, in their local language, means "an area of fishing" which indicates the livelihood of most men and women.

Kulafai Rashideen Primary School was founded in September 2000, comprised of just a small thatched house in Gbainty Bunlor. It started with a roll of 30 to 35 pupils and three teachers in all, one Arabic teacher and two English teachers. In 2003, the Islamic World Bank constructed five classrooms and a staff building. Thanks to these facilities, the community can now boast of a safe and convenient building for their children to learn.

In 2007, 17 pupils attempted the National Primary School Examination (NPSE). With great assistance from teachers, Mohamed Koroma obtained a good score of 272 marks. Since then, the school has been doing very well in taking part both in external and internal exams.

However, there have been challenges along the way. The school has not been registered with the Ministry of Education: Science and Technology, so these teachers who are not on government payroll find life more challenging. Nonetheless, there is hope as they wait for the government to accept their application.

A normal day starts early in the morning when families gather together for their Muslim subs prayer. After that, mothers heat leftover food for the family, children prepare for school and fathers leave home for either fishing or farming.

When all the children have left, the mothers will go to the market to sell any goods they have [fish or their crops]. Family members start returning home towards the end of the day, as mothers prepare the evening meal so that everyone can eat before the 8 PM prayers.

Though Gbainty Bunlor is isolated, it draws a lot of business as outsiders come seeking fresh fish and vegetables.

Water Situation

A well was installed at the school over 10 years ago. We've been visiting it on a quarterly basis for the past couple of years to support the school and surrounding community in managing and maintaining the pump. But we started to uncover that during certain visits, we'd find the pump sitting abandoned. When pumping, no water would come out. Our mechanics opened up the well and discovered that it was going dry, and the community confirms that this begins in March and stretches until July.

The school is currently in distress, because they are in the midst of this dry season. The headteacher along with members of the community called our office and asked for our help, because they don’t want their pupils to have no choice but to return to the swamp to fetch water. The school is ready and willing to work with us so we can make this a year round clean water well.

Sanitation Situation

There are two buildings of four latrines each at the school, but they're not enough for the 267 students and 12 staff. A quarter of the households who use the well lack latrines, either sharing them with their neighbor or relieving themselves at the swamp (which happens to be where the alternative water source is).

There are no special hand-washing stations at the school, so students just use the water they fetch to rinse their hands. The surrounding families have no designated hand-washing containers either. Most people who use the well have clotheslines, but very few have dish racks to safely dry their utensils.

Farmer Pa Kabba Kamara told us that "because of the kind of work we do in this village, work like farming, fishing and petty trading, we are normally sick with cold and pain and sometimes due to the unkempt environment. We also experience sick such as malaria, typhoid and cholera."

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered to students, teachers, and community members for three days in a row.

No hand-washing stations were found 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 school and 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 school and surrounding community will have access to safe drinking water in both quality and quantity, even through the dry months.

Project Updates

September, 2017: Kulafai Rashideen Primary School Project Complete

Kulafai Rashideen Primary School in Gbainty Bunlor, Sierra Leone now has a well that provides clean water throughout the year, thanks to your donation! Hundreds of students and community members no longer have to go to the swamp and then suffer the dangerous effects of drinking dirty water. 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 school and community a great foothold in eliminating water and sanitation-related illness. Please enjoy this update detailing all of the work that was done at Kulafai Rashideen Primary School, and be sure to check out the tons of new pictures!

Thank You for unlocking potential for these students and their families. 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 worked closely with Headmistress Mafereh Bangura to organize her students to attend hygiene and sanitation training. We also invited all of the teachers and also the village elders. The headmistress set aside the sixth grade classroom, since it's the largest and most ventilated of all the rooms there.

In light of it being the days before school holiday during final exams, we were pleasantly surprised to have drawn 80% of everyone invited. Out of the six teachers, four came to help and also learn for themselves.

The first session, we noticed that a huge number of students were barefoot, which introduces them to different complications, including parasites! We urged them to start wearing shoes for these reasons, since shoes are the only barrier between them and skin complications. We were happy to notice that the following day, all of those students returned with their shoes on - the issue here isn't that they couldn't afford shoes, but that they didn't realize the importance of wearing them.

This second day of training is also when we moved out of the school classroom to the community, where we invited all household to join us as we learned about important hygiene and sanitation facts. Everyone appreciated this so much, feeling happy that they were important enough to invite! Mr. Alimamy Kamara has a child who attends the school, so he was happy to join us and learn the same material. He said, "I am very happy for this training because our kids are far away from hygiene; in the morning hours after doing their housework, they just put on their uniforms without taking their bath nor brush their teeth before going to school!"

3 sierraleone5119 training

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

Diagrams portraying unhealthy practices such as walking barefoot, open defecation, outdoor urination, and eating with unwashed hands were all shown and discussed in groups. Students participated in role-plays and dramas, too!

4 sierraleone5119 training

Demonstrating how to set up and use a mosquito net. These are handed out for free from the government, but people aren't taught why or how to use them.

The first time we arrived at this school, there were no hand-washing stations. After the students had learned to make tippy taps, they had set them up all around school grounds. There wasn't a dish rack for students to dry their drinking cups, but since the school was about to shut down for break, students promised to have one built when they return. The community members who attended the session on dish racks built them immediately after the training. It was encouraging to see this positive response!

7 sierraleone5119 training

Students holding up pictures of good and bad hygiene behaviors to encourage discussions.

Headmistress Bangura told us "Really these hygiene training lessons have become as good to the pupils as well as for us as teachers. The reason for this is that we have already started seeing some changes in the attitude of some pupils. Some who used to come to school barefooted are now putting on shoes. When coming to school, their teeth are now taking care of, they have get in to the habit of taking their showers every morning before coming to school. We have the confidence that these changes will take place in the whole community and beyond. We thank you all and hope that you will make future visit as a way of follow up."

8 sierraleone5119 Interview 1 Mafereh Bangura

Headmistress Bangura

Project Result: A Reliable Water Well

The school allowed our drill team to use a classroom for lodging throughout construction. This was greatly appreciated because it is starting to rain every night.

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 48 feet with no water.

The team first set up the tripod and pulley over the well. Normally, the team would go down inside the well to drill it deeper, but it was decided to drill this well differently - The team worked from ground level here. First, they installed 6″ PVC casing through the hatch cover down to the bottom of the well. This ensured that the drilling began straight and also kept the hole from collapsing. They connected the bucket auger drill bit to the drilling rod and lowered 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 emptied the bucket auger, they had to reverse the process by disconnecting the rods until the drill bit could be emptied. This method was 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.

11 sierraleone5119 drilling

This is hard work!

The team encountered sand as they drilled, which was a welcome site because water flows freely through sand, and it's also easier to drill through. They continued to hit sand until 72 feet, where there was clay. They started to pull some black clay too, which negatively affects water quality - so the final call was to stop before the black clay at 72 feet.

18 feet of 4¼" casing was slotted for screen and lowered down inside the temporary casing from 52 to 70 feet. Five buckets of filter pack were poured in between the two casings after which the team could remove the larger temporary casing.

14 sierraleone5119 drilling

Hoisting out the temporary casing.

Iron rods were cemented in 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 into the pump base to help 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 60 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 650 gallons. The static water level didn’t change from 47 feet! This translates to 40 liters per minute, confirming that the water will recharge fast enough to always serve the school.

16 sierraleone5119 yield testing

Community members gather around with their containers during the yield test.

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

18 sierraleone5119 pump installation

Mr. Bai Kamara reflected on this huge change and what it means for his community:

"The distance from the school to the water source had been a very big problem not only for us as grown ups, but also the children. Getting to the swamp to fetch water every morning not only made them feel uncomfortable but also caused lateness on their part. Often times, their uniforms got wet, they got tired because of the long distances covered and that would make some not even go to school except the next day. Vomiting and frequent diarrhea was always observed among the pupils. Initially, we were confused about the cause of their frequent vomiting and stool, but we later realized that the cause for their sickness was drinking from the unsafe swampy water. But thankfully the rehabilitation of this new safe water source will become a real help for the school and entire community. We are quite sure and pray that we will never go to the swamp again to fetch water because of this safe drinking water source in our community. We are grateful for this well, and thank you all for your effort!"

21 sierraleone5119 clean water

This well was bone dry just two weeks ago. Incredible!

Everyone came together to celebrate how this well has been revived and is now yielding a surplus of clean water. The chief, Pa Kabakamara came to join all of the students at their well. There were also teachers and community members there. The chief and many teachers stepped forward to share what this huge improvement will mean for them, as well as many students. The student body president, Emma, said "I am happy for such a development in our school. I have also benefited so much from the hygiene training. It has helped me to get into the habit of using soap and water after using toilet, a practice that I have not been used to. Really I am very much grateful to the hygiene team." Our hygiene team also summarized what everyone learned during training, encouraging them to build new hygiene and sanitation practice into their daily lives.

During this celebration, people surrounded the well and waited their turn for a sip of clean water. In conclusion, the chief, chairman of the school board, and a teacher stood next to our team and received the official "handing over" of this well into their hands. While we will stand beside the school and community to ensure their well serves them for a long time, we want these people to feel responsible for this well's management and maintenance. When we arrive to make any repairs, we expect them to be able to use collected funds to make payment. To symbolize this handing over, we filled a cup at the pump and handed it over from our team to theirs.

August, 2017: Kulafai Rashideen Primary School Project Underway

Kulafai Rashideen Primary School in Sierra Leone will soon have a source of safe, clean water because of your donation! A well that is dry for almost half of every year is being deepened, and the students, teachers, and parents will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this school and their 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!

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.


Project Sponsor - The Matthew Martin Family
1 individual donor(s)