Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

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

There are no normal schedules in a fishing community. Children, men and women wake up at all hours of the day and night. There is never a set time for the fishermen to haul in their nets. Fish are valued more than gold in Kitonki.

The people who reside in this coastal area are known for their extensive knowledge on fishing and building boats. The founder of the town was a fisherman by the name of Ansumana Kamara, a young man with the strength of ten people.

In Kitonki, people usually eat whatever they can get their hands on. There is a certain species of rat that feeds on the rice planted in the swamp, and some people consider it to be a delicacy; roasted over an open flame with a pinch of salt and hot pepper.

Water Situation

We discovered a well in Kitonki back in 2001, which needed a pump replacement to get it 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 the dry season that lasts up to four months, no water comes out of the pump! The environment has changed since the well was dug, and water no longer outlasts the driest months.

We were also receiving continuous calls before and after the dry season as the water level changed; community members had to work extra hard to get water from the pump, and would consequentially damage it from their overuse. We made 13 repairs on this pump last year!

Without this well, the community member goes back to the source they were using before: the swamp. Thus for a quarter of the year, waterborne disease is once again a reality. This season is just beginning, and so everyone is especially excited about this project!

Sanitation Situation

Almost all fishing communities lack proper sanitation facilities with there being no shame in using the beach as a latrine. There was an old man by the name of Braun Sesay, known for his brute strength. He believed that if he ever used a pit latrine, he'd lose all of his strength. Less than half of the households in Kitonki have their own pit latrine!

The ones we observed are made of mud blocks and old roofing removed from houses. Almost everything gets recycled in this community; the debris washed ashore is used for one thing or another.

There are no hand-washing stations here, revealing that community members aren't taking even the simplest steps to prevent communicable diseases. Area Chief Alhaji Lansana Bashim told us, "I have lived all my life in this community, eaten all types of food, drank all types of water, eaten all types of rodents, birds and God only knows what else. I never thought I will live to see a ripe age of sixty-two years. I still feel strong, even though tasks are becoming difficult everyday. I will say I have lived a good life. I have laid to rest fifteen of my children and the grandchildren, the count I do not remember. The outside world say we father a lot of children. How can we not? Most of them die before their fourth birthday. Our children die from the most common illnesses that would otherwise not kill anyone in the advanced world. A common cold kills alot of people here."

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.

Every single household that wishes to use the revived water source will be required to have even the simplest of pit latrines.

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

November, 2017: Kitonki Community Project Complete

Kitonki 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 Kitonki 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 all of the key leaders in Kitonki to communicate the need for hygiene and sanitation training. People made announcements about training at the wharf where men were fishing, and in the mosque after prayers. Because of concerted effort, attendance ended up being great. Total participants started in the 70s and then increased to over 80 on the third day.

We met under a large mango tree, and a community leader provided a tent for additional shade.

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.

Each person brought an empty jerrycan and we provided the string to make 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?

Community members help by holding up illustrations of everyday happenings that affect hygiene and sanitation.

The final day, we continued these types of discussions. While on the first day we had led people through hand-washing station construction, this third day was similar in that we elaborated on the need for and the viability of building other sanitation facilities like latrines, dish racks, and animal pens. We taught participants what materials to use, proving that even the poorest family can afford to build at least a traditional pit latrine.

The trainer discussing the importance of using a dish rack.

Mrs. Ramatu Kamara was very happy with what she learned. "This hygiene training helped me a lot to make changes in my life in terms of using tippy taps (hand-washing stations) for the frequent hand-washing. Thank God they made me to have better sense and understanding the importance of not sleeping with the animals. We value our animals, that's why we sleep with them and the thief steal them. Now we get to know how to build a house for them. I will tell my husband to build a house for them to keep them separate from all of us. I value this training because it imposed some bylaws to the people in this community," she shared. She then turned to the other participants and training and implored them "not to use the toilet on the beach anymore!"

Ramatu Kamara

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 65 feet deep with three feet of water. At this time of the year, community members were only able to draw one or two containers of water before the well needed rest. In a few more weeks, the well would have been completely dry.

The team set 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 worked from ground level here in Kitonki.

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 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.

Drilling is tough when it's by hand!

After drilling five feet, the team ran into a plastic bucket that one of the community members had dropped down the well. It had been completely sealed in silt, and the drill bit just wouldn't go through the plastic. The team had to shift to a different drilling location at the other side of the hatch because of this. This time, they missed the plastic. They ran into sand, red clay, and a mix of both. At 85 feet, the team ran into black clay which is bad for drinking water.

They lowered 18 feet of casing slotted for screen down to 83 feet, and then dumped six buckets of filter pack 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 70 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 390 gallons. The static water level of 62 feet dropped about two feet, but only took three minutes to recharge. Thus, the yield is 24 liters per minute.

Testing the well yield as the community gathers round!

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

As clean water flowed from the new pump, we gathered around the well where the community listened to music and began dancing with happiness for the rejuvenation of this clean water well. The village leader, chairman, and caretaker of the well all shared their gratefulness in front of the crowd. The caretaker reminded everyone to practice good hygiene and sanitation around the water well. She said, "It was very hard to have safe drinking water when the water table went down in this water well. But now, we will have plenty of water in this well!"

October, 2017: Kitonki Community Project Underway

Kitonki Community will soon have a source of safe and clean water that works year round, thanks to your generous donation. A well that is dry for four months every year is being deepened, and a new pump installed. For those four months, community members have no choice but to drink dirty water from the swamp again. The community will also 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!

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.


Sydney's Mitzvah Project
2 individual donor(s)