Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 334 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/26/2024

Project Features

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The grounds of D.E.C. Mathen Primary School covers an area of about 6,150 square feet with a football field occupying most of the grounds. There is one building with seven classrooms and an office for the headteacher, and a store. There are also two buildings with three rooms each for toilets.

About 35 meters from the school building is a well in need of repair. It often runs dry and does not have the needed support to ensure it functions properly.

This is the well we are rehabilitating.

The 334 students at the school have to travel to the nearest swamp to collect water for each day. Its water also dissipates during the dry season, making an already unsafe water source unreliable for the school.

There are also the dangers associated with the road to the swamp water source. The road is bushy, putting the children at risk of being bitten by poisonous snakes. It also takes longer to fetch the water - costing students time that should be spent in the classroom learning.

The water itself is unsafe because it is used for a range of activities from washing clothes to bathing. That same water, filled with chemicals and other pollutants, is then used for drinking.

The latrines at the school are in great condition. All six are well kept. The floors are swept, dry, and all pits were covered. There were no cockroaches, flies or mosquitoes.

"It never looked like we were in a latrine of a rural school. It was actually unbelievable," said Thomas Lewis, reporting officer.

What we can do:


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

The hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach students and the surrounding community about the importance of handwashing, building and using dish racks, and other sanitation facilities. Pictures will be used to teach the community how to discern between healthy and unhealthy hygiene and sanitation practices.

These trainings will also result in a water user committee that manages and maintains the new well. They will enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.

Well Rehabilitation

We want to work on the well located at the school. Most of these wells were hand dug by local contractors who may not have the energy to dig further down to negotiate a reasonable depth, as a result, these wells get dry not long after their construction. So what we have been doing is converting these wells to boreholes so that reasonable water level can be reached which is the best alternative for communities. This is proving to be the best intervention rather than using the old way of doing a well rehabilitation.

Our team has decided to do the hard work of drilling a borehole by hand in the bottom of this well, which will not only increase the water quantity but will ensure its quality, too. A new well pad will keep contaminants out, and a new India MkII stainless steel pump will provide easy and safe access to the clean water inside.

The students have been drinking dirty swamp water and suffering the consequences. With our rehabilitating this open well, the students and the surrounding community will be provided with plenty of safe, clean drinking water.

Project Updates

November, 2019: Giving Update: DEC Mathem Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped DEC Mathem Primary School in Sierra Leone access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at DEC Mathem Primary School. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this school maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

January, 2019: DEC Mathen Primary School Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable well at DEC Mathen Primary School that's providing clean water! Hygiene and sanitation training was conducted both in the school and the greater community, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines.

New Knowledge

The team coordinator, Zainab, called her team together to go through the information collected during a visit and interviews in Mathen Primary School and the surrounding community.

Upon arrival to the community, the team consulted with the headmaster who then alerted the staff and the pupils. A teacher was also sent to the community to inform them about the arrival of the training team. Once the boombox was plugged on, some more community members began to show up. We were disappointed with the few parents who showed up to learn, so we rescheduled an additional training to be held at the community center.

The first day of training started with the question, "Who amongst you washed his or her's hands today before coming to school?"

The trainer talked about the importance of handwashing and all of the students were free to ask their questions. For example, a girl named Adama asked if she could transfer cholera to her friend by shaking her hand. This question and answer session transitioned to building new handwashing stations called tippy taps and learning how to use them.

Building tippy tap handwashing stations

Topics also included:

– Good and bad hygiene

School staff helping the trainer by holding up good and bad hygiene habits

– Pump maintenance
– Nutrition
– Dental hygiene

A young pupil demonstrates how to brush teeth

"To me, hygiene and training is about living a long life. And what we have learned from this team is great," said Teacher Mohamed Munu.

"What is even more interesting is the presentation on handwashing. This practice is the most compromised in our communities. For the most part we only wash our hands when we want to eat meals. Even that is not consistent. It becomes worse when the mango season is around. But I am very happy that the team stressed on handwashing, especially for the pupils. They are the ones that are most vulnerable. On behalf of the school, I am expressing my sincere gratitude to the team for their wonderful presentation on this topic."

We returned to the school and found children still washing their hands like we taught them. The school has also constructed counters for the market women who sell snacks to the students.

The community is following in the footsteps of the school. People are competing on the completion of tippy taps and dish racks. The last time we were in this community, we counted more than twenty homes with both dish racks and tippy taps. Some homes have them both in the front and back of their homes. For those who do not have these tools yet, the headman asked the team to give them a week. It is really going on well here and we are happy with the progress.

A woman stands proudly next to her new dish rack

Clean Water Restored

The Process:

The first things the drill team did when they arrived at DEC Mathen Primary School were to contact school leadership and find a place to set up drill camp.

Here is how we restored clean, reliable water here:

1. Raised the tripod

2. Found the original depth (31 feet)

3. Socketed the pipes

4. Installed temporary drill casing

5. Lined up the drill rods

6. Drilled!

Drilling by hand is always hard work. They attached a bucket drill bit and got through 20 feet of sand. They hit a rock at 51 feet, which is very common in the Lokomasama region. The team tried to negotiate their way through the rock without success and even started damaging their equipment. But knowing the region, the head office directed the team to finish things off and do a yield test because 51 feet would most likely provide plenty of water.

7. Installed screening and filter pack

8. Cemented an iron rod to well lining, and fixed it with an iron collar at the top

9. Bailed the well by hand for three days and flushed it

10. Tested the yield (we got a static water level of 20 feet going at 41 liters per minute - more water than a hand-pump can pull)

11. Built a cement platform, walls, and drainage system

For this well, we turned the drainage system into an area for handwashing. There is a PVC pipe that can easily be attached to the pump. When pumping, little holes in the long stretch of PVC allow students to wash their hands.

12. Installed a stainless steel India Mk11 pump

The hand-drill method allows the team to install the cylinder far below the aquifer so that the community has great water access throughout the year.

13. Water quality test

The community and school gathered together at the well when we received clean water test results. This was a celebration! The school leadership gave their vote of thanks and the students and community members were allowed to use the well for the first time. The kids were especially excited about the new handwashing stations.

A market woman pleaded that she join the kids to try washing her hands at the pipe. Her request was granted by the team but the kids took the activity to another level, which made her back off. She could not endure the heavy splashing of water - as you know, kids like to play with water a lot!

"I am very happy that our well has been rehabilitated. I am happy because we have been relieved of going to the community or the swamp to fetch water for our drinking buckets, especially we the senior pupils. The distance to the swamp is very far and by the time we come back from there, we are tired. Also, the water from the swamp is usually very dirty, particularly in the dry season. Some of us suffer if we take too much of it," said 15-year-old Adama.

"But this well is producing very clean and fresh water. So we are thankful to God for that. Thank you also."

December, 2018: DEC Mathen Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Mathen Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know your school through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Videos

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.

Giving Update: DEC Mathem Primary School

November, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped DEC Mathem Primary School in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Emma Koroma. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help DEC Mathem 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!

Things at DEC Mathem Primary School have improved significantly in the year since the well project was completed. The water user committee is working tirelessly to see that the well is functioning.

"My people and my fellow pupils no longer go to the stream to fetch water. We are very happy in school and the community," 14-year-old student Emma Koroma said.

"I don't fetch water anywhere other than this well for drinking, bathing, and laundering."

The students have changed their mindset about hygiene and sanitation as compared to before, reported our field officer after a recent visit. The lessons from the hygiene and sanitation training that they acquired are sustaining them and they are practicing everything that they learned a year ago. The community and the school environment are clean and their handwashing stations are up and running.

These changes occurred due to the training in conjunction with the water that is available from the well at any time.

"Our latrines are kept clean with water available, our handwashing stations are up and running which our students use to wash their hands after using the bathroom. We are not having any waterborne diseases because of this clean water and these improvements," said teacher Alhaji Kamara.

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 DEC Mathem 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 DEC Mathem 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.


The Hermosillo Family
Navias Family Foundation
St. Thomas The Apostle Church
Winona Corporation
Half Hollow Hills Social Studies Department
57 individual donor(s)