Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 395 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/21/2024

Project Features

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The majority of people in Mapitheri Community wake up early each morning for prayers. Then, the children are sent off to the swamp to collect water for their families.

This community has three protected wells that have very clean well environments with zero chance of any contaminants - that is, if these wells could provide reliable clean water. Unfortunately, only one of these three wells is functioning, and only partially.

In addition to this well, we are rehabilitating other non-functioning wells in the area to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water. See the projects here and here.

That means that this community’s only reliable water source is the swamp, which is located more than a mile away from some homes. Aside from the distance, the road is in poor condition and hilly. It discourages people from using the source.

The community people use this source for more than one purpose. They will use it to bathe, farm, launder, and some of them, particularly the kids, will even defecate close to the source.

Since swamp water is open and not controlled by protocol or rules, it is prone to various contaminants. And because people share this unprotected source with other wild animals, they are exposed to the diseases of those animals.

In the morning, school children will be the first to visit this source. The community people would have to wait until the kids are done, by which time the whole source would be dirty. During weekends the kids will flock to this water point for their weekly laundry, and this will limit the chances of other people accessing water.

The community members must wait for the water to settle before collecting it. We learned that some people in this village do filter their water before consuming it. But Most will let the water stand in containers and wait for it to settle before draining it into their drinking buckets.

Diseases enter this community due to people drinking the dirty water from unprotected sources. When people get sick they cannot be productive and will not earn as much money to care for their families. People die needlessly from these waterborne illnesses like cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and malaria.

This is a very rural and peaceful community. Those with some basic education have chosen to be traders, traveling to one-day markets called Lumas, buying agricultural produce wholesale and retailing it in other nearby villages. The others with no academic background have chosen to farm.

Most community members have latrines and nearly half of all households have handwashing stations. People in this community are a little careful about sanitation and this is as a result of the presence of sanitary officials who pay frequent visits to this community.

"We have tried to organize Saturday cleaning in this community so that we can make some improvements in our hygiene and sanitation status because at the moment we are very lacking in this department," Mrs. Aminata Turay said.

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 community members 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 in the community. 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 a reasonable water level can be reached. This is proving to be the best intervention for these communities.

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.

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

Project Updates

January, 2019: Mapitheri, Port Loko Road Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable water point in Mapitheri Community that's already providing clean water to families! People here no longer have to rely on dirty water from the swamp. Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines.

Hassanatu Kamara is the mother of one of our staff members and a very active voice in the community. From start to finish, she participated in all the hygiene training and was a member of the group of women that prepared food for the drill team. The change started with her and her household. She has installed a handwashing station at her house, renovated her latrine, made an animal house, a dish rack, and a bathing shelter.

Hassanatu Kamara

She could not be any happier because the trips to the stream are going to stop!

Clean Water Restored

The first thing the drill team did when they arrived in Mapitheri was to contact the local leaders. After getting permission to proceed, they set up camp by the well.

Here is how they restored clean, reliable water here:

1. Raise the tripod

2. Find the original depth

3. Socket the pipes

4. Install casing

5. Line up the drill rods

6. Drill!

Drilling by hand is always hard labor. The first layer of ground was sand for 10 feet before hitting a sandy clay that lasted another 9. This was the material we worked through all the way up to 53 feet.

7. Install screening and filter pack

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

9. Bail the well by hand for three days

This process removes any debris left over from construction.

10. Test the yield

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

12. India Mk11 pump installation

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 Ministry of Water Resources has verified that this well meets the World Health Organization’s standards for drinking water.

The dedication was held on a Friday immediately after the afternoon prayers. A young boy about twelve years old sang very beautiful African songs.

New Knowledge

The training coordinator made calls to the headman informing him about the proposed schedule. A day before the first hygiene and sanitation training, a representative of the team went to the community in order to remind people of the plans.

The turnout was more than expected. There was full participation from the water user committee and a cross section of both sexes during the training.

The first day of training was held under a mango tree behind a house that is no longer habitable. The house has long been abandoned because repairs could not be made. The second and third days of training were moved to the home of the section chief a few feet away from the water point. The fear of having the house collapsing on unsuspecting wandering children was the main reason for the move across the street to the well location. The scorching African sun brought the seventy people closer together, sitting side by side and very attentive.

Most of the people out in this rural community can’t read or write, but our trainers took this into account and planned special activities for them. They used lots of pictures and demonstrations to communicate about hygiene and sanitation.

Helping each other build tippy taps, an economical type of handwashing station

Topics included handwashing and how to make a tippy tap handwashing station, good and bad hygiene, disease transmission, tools like dish racks and clotheslines, oral rehydration solution, animal care, latrine use, and pump maintenance.

"I know the hygiene training has changed my life and I hope and pray that all the people in the community will have learned one thing," said section chief Pa Alimamy Koroma.

"Keeping our environment clean is vital to living a long and healthy life. The most important thing is accepting what has been taught and putting it into practice."

December, 2018: Mapitheri, Port Loko Road Project Underway

Dirty water from the swamp is making people in Mapitheri Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to restore a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative 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 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.


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