Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase: 
Under Community Care
Initial Installation: Jan 2018

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 School

Gbaneh Bana SLMB was founded in 1983. The school started with only two classes, first and second grade. Enrollment immediately started growing. They participated in their first National Primary School Examination (NPSE) in the 1989-1990 school year, with ten students sitting for the exam. We met Mr. Osman I. Turay, one of the first students who ever attended this school. He is now a teacher at this school, bringing a legacy of many years with him.

The school is headed by Mrs. Isatu Kanu, who is now concluding her first year as the headteacher. The school has reached out to the government for a program to help feed its hungry students. The school uses these funds to feed students lunch every Tuesday and Thursday, providing it free of charge.

A normal day for students starts at 8:30am when they arrive. The school opens with prayer, the pledge of allegiance and national anthem. This kind of start to the day isn't unique to this school; respect for the country is part of every school program. The teachers then make sure that students keep the compound clean, delegating class chores before lessons start. The lunch hour is at 11:20am, with students sometimes returning home for lunch. School dismisses at different times depending on the class, with younger classes dismissing first. This school was originally a primary school, but now it also has a junior secondary school.

Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School now has a total enrollment of 356 students and employs 12 teachers. Besides the school, there are 14 households and an additional 161 people who fetch their water from the well here.

Water Situation

We have monitored this water well for quite some time. A few years ago, this well was slated to be deepened because the water table had dropped. For months at a time, students, staff, and community members would use the pump but no water would come out.

However, another organization came by to construct new latrines. When they did, they put a new pump on the well with their logo. Unfortunately, a new pump doesn't solve a problem with water levels! The school is very disappointed about how this delayed actual resolution, and they have worked very well with our team for the past year to provide data and begin this process.

Students and community members should not have to return to the open stream for water, but they have no other choice. The stream is miles away from the school, causing students to be late. What's worse, students and community members walk miles for dirty water that gives them diarrhea and stomachaches.

Sanitation Situation

There are five usable latrines on school grounds. Two are for girls, two for boys, and one for teachers. There is open defecation both by the students and the community. It is not uncommon at all to see people easing themselves in the bushes and behind the school, even though there are latrines nearby. This is a cultural issue. We will sensitize both the community and school about good and bad hygiene and what makes a healthy and unhealthy community; if you are defecating in your community and school, you are creating an unhealthy environment.

Headteacher Kanu told us, "The students do wash their hands and sweep the school grounds. We have them clean the latrines at the end of every week. We are very thankful for the intervention of digging this water well deeper. We have strained for a long time."

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members, teachers, and students will be trained at the school for three days, three hours a day.

Our facilitator plans to use the PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training) method, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations to teach about management and maintenance of the new pump, diseases transmission, hand-washing, building latrines and using them, and constructing dish racks. An entire session will lead participants through how to build a “tippy-tap,” which is a hand-washing station made from a jerrycan, rope, and sticks.

Training will also result in the formation of a water user committee that will take responsibility for their new well. The members will manage and maintain the pump to the best of their ability, and will call our office if they need a mechanic to make a repair.

Plans: Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the area once again. 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 new water table, which 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.

Project Updates

October, 2018: A Year Later: Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to restore water to Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School. 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...

January, 2018: Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School Project Complete

Gbaneh Bana SLMB 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 search for alternative sources of water and then suffer the dangerous effects of drinking that 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 Gbaneh Bana SLMB 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 with the headmistress of the school and its teachers to determine the best time to hold hygiene and sanitation training. The students of course turned out in high numbers, and we were pleased to see that the teachers invited a bunch of the parents as well. Since a lot of the information taught was new to participants, children and adults participated well together during different activities. They did role plays together, group discussions, and demonstrations.

Some of the parents at training

There was a demonstration with the trainer walking around shaking hands with all the participants. 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. When schools reopen after the holidays, the team will return to make sure that hand-washing stations are in place.

Making hand-washing stations out of jerrycans, string, and sticks

On the second day, the facilitator used posters to teach the differences between good and bad hygiene. There was a bit of finger-pointing as peers blamed each other for bad habits, but the facilitator kept turning this into encouragement to do the right thing. The teachers were also encouraged to build dish racks for the traders who sell food in the school compound. When school opens, the teachers will have a pit dug behind the school for garbage and a dish and food rack set up for those selling food on school grounds.

Students helping the trainer by holding illustrations of good and bad hygiene practices.

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 in the community can afford to build a traditional pit latrine. This day was especially important because we taught participants how to properly manage and maintain their water source.

Participants asked so many good questions throughout training, such as "If we can't afford toothpaste, what else can we use?" and "How can we keep animals out of our food?"

Teacher Isatu Kanu said, "We have the conviction and believe that by your intervention, changes will come. We are happy about your stepping in to sensitize us about personal hygiene. At the very beginning of the training, we have observed some changes in the lives of the pupils. The boys have improved in their personal hygiene by having a nice and low haircut and bathe every morning before coming to school. The girls also take good care of their appearance with nice plaited hair. Their application of what they have learnt from the training does not only end there but is even in their homes. For example, as I was passing in the neighborhood one evening, I saw a hand-washing station hung on a mango tree. When asked who did it, I was surprised to learn that it was one of our pupils who have hung it. That shows how the training has actually gained momentum. I am not only pleased about it but am very much happy about it. I am pleading that such training will be repeated."

Isatu Kanu

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 48 feet deep and had absolutely no water.

The team set up the tripod and pulley over the well and opened it up to prepare for drilling with a hand auger.

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.


The team met sand for a short time but it quickly turned to clay. There was 10 feet of clay and then it turned back to fine white sand. It was tough to remove this sand, since it kept sinking back into the hole. With a lot of ingenuity and perseverance, the team was able to clear 71 feet of sand. Once there, they sealed the bottom with cement to prevent siltation.

They lowered casing slotted for screen from 55 to 70 feet, and then dumped seven 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 65 feet and using it for one hour. The team measured the discharge, which was 650 gallons. We are excited that the static water level at 46 feet deep remained the same throughout the entire test. Thus, the yield is 40 liters per minute.

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

A large crowd of people including both students and their parents gathered to celebrate the completion of their new borehole. There was singing and dancing, and both school and community leaders stepped up to offer their thanks. The headmistress said that words failed her, while we assured the school that there will no longer be a need for organizations to step in and do a water project at their school; this borehole will provide reliable clean water.

Teachers and parents joined their students in tasting their first sips of clean water from this new, hand-drilled borehole!

Teacher Dominic Turay said, "The distance from our previous water source to the school is very far. Sending down the pupils to fetch water from there had always been a worry in our lives. Drinking from the swamp water had also been a challenge for us. Our frequent cases of sickness was from it, but there had been no other option for us except that source. Our pupils will always complain of illness and there was nothing the community could do about it. Drinking from pure and safe water source has always been something we yearn for. We are filled with joy and happiness for the fact that Mariatu ’s Hope and The Water Project have extended this wonderful privilege to us to be among those communities who now can boast of having pure drinking water."

Teacher Dominic Turay

12-year-old Isatu Kargbo told us his story: "Repeating my story is indeed an unpleasant thing, and memories of it always bring tears to my eyes. The incident that changed my life took place in 2016. It was one afternoon when I went down to the swamp to fetch water. On my way going, I saw a big snake crossing the road towards me. Filled with fear, I tried to run towards the other side of the road when unfortunately I was knocked down by a car. I was seriously hit to the point that I experienced unimaginable pain at that moment. That incident has left me with continuous headaches and sometimes my nose bleeds. When I think of my present situation, I wonder why such a terrible thing happened to me. Being the eldest of four children in a poor family like ours adds more pain to the injury. My mother has much concern for me may at times want to do more about my health situation, but could only afford the traditional herbs for treatment because there is no money to take me to the hospital. What is more pitiful about my family is that my mother is a widow. I have no father to support mum and the going for her is not easy. ...I thought to myself that had it been that there was a reliable well in my school where we were to fetch water without going down to the swamp, probably I would not have experienced such an unfortunate situation. Nonetheless, I now console myself with the idea that my peers will not experience what I am going through. Truly speaking, I am very much grateful to Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project for rehabilitating this well in our school. Thanks very much for rescuing others from such an unpleasant happening."

November, 2017: Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School Project Underway

Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School in Sierra Leone will soon have a source of safe, clean water because of your donation! A dry well 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.

A Year Later: Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School

October, 2018

“Since they rehabilitated this water well, we have been drinking good and pure water now, both the community and the school. And we are now boasting of good health in our environment!” – Lamrana

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School 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 Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School. 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 Edward Amara with you.

Students no longer leave their school to find water. Each morning, drinking buckets are filled at the well and placed in each classroom. Class lessons go on uninterrupted.

We spoke with Headteacher Isatu Kanu and one of her students, Lamrana Jalloh.

"Since we have clean and pure drinking water, the pupils are healthy," Headteacher Kanu told us.

"The previous years, this water well used to dry up during the dry season but since the rehabilitation in the well, we don't go out to find water to drink."

Headteacher Isatu Kanu and one of her students, Lamrana Jalloh

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.

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 well at Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School is changing many lives.

"When there was no pump in the school, we used to go a far distance to get water to drink. Sometimes we used our lunch to buy packaged water for drinking," remembered 9-year-old Lamrana.

Lamrana pumping water from the well

"Since they rehabilitated this water well we have been drinking good and pure water now, both the community and the school. And we are now boasting good health in our environment!"

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 Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School 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 Gbaneh Bana SLMB Primary School – 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.