January, 2019: United Brethren Academy Secondary School Project Complete
We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable well at United Brethren Academy Secondary School providing clean water! Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted in Lungi, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines.
The training team got together and took a quick glance at the baseline survey to determine training topics for the school. From it they came up with a plan and presented it to the administration.
Later that same day, a team member was sent to inform the school administration on the proposed days of training. A great number of students and teachers met us in the largest classroom hall available, which could accommodate 250 students. The atmosphere was very nice because the weather was cool. The school is located not too far from the sea, so a gentle breeze blew gently and quietly through the windows.
Participation was high. Every kid wanted to do something during training and you could see the joy whenever someone was selected to demonstrate something. And those who didn’t get the opportunity to come on stage for demonstrations displayed their curiosity by asking questions and answering questions.
– Good and bad hygiene
– Pump maintenance
– Handwashing and how to build a tippy tap
Posing with their tippy taps
– Dental hygiene
– Importance of latrines
– Cost recovery program
– How to build a dish rack and clothesline
– Cholera, diarrhea, and oral rehydration solutions
Dental hygiene was a huge highlight. Tooth care is one of the most compromised hygiene practices in African societies. A good number of rural people do not use toothbrushes and prefer sticks instead. The result is decaying teeth all around.
So when this topic was introduced, the pupils showed great interest. Of course, some of them are victims of decayed teeth, and most have relatives who are victims.
After a presentation on ways to care for teeth, she beckoned to her colleague who brought forward "The Teeth." This is a large model mouth with giant teeth. There was a huge round of laughter in the class upon seeing the object. The next object was a giant toothbrush.
With these, she patiently brushed all the corners of the teeth and explained the process at the same time. When she was done, she requested that a representative come up and demonstrate the same tooth care. The kids liked it and laughed throughout the exercise.
"To be honest with you, I was personally impressed with the simple methods used by your team to present very important hygiene and sanitation messages," said Vice Principal Sesay.
"What I admire most is the tippy tap. This topic teaches a very economical way of using water and it is a totally new idea to most of us. In fact, I have installed mine close to my toilet and my kitchen. I do believe that frequent handwashing is good for the health of my family."
When we returned to this institution a while after training, we observed something. The school now has a designated staff in charge of hygiene at the toilet and he carries a cane. He waves his cane in the air and tells the kids to wash their hands after using the toilet.
We also observed a very clean compound as compared to the time of the baseline survey. The level of neatness among pupils has also increased, said a female teacher in charge of dress code inspection. So there has been a tremendous improvement in hygiene and sanitation here and that is credited to the hygiene and sanitation training.
Clean Water Restored
This well was a very deep hand-dug well built by a different organization. We tried a couple of times to restore reliable water to it by lowering a man down to dig it deeper. On the last attempt with a man down inside of the well, he shouted up that he was losing air and the team very quickly hoisted him out of the well by rope and pulley. It was at that moment that we had to make the hard decision to not dig this well deeper.
The school struggled to manage and had to fetch water elsewhere when the water table was down. But when we developed a new method of drilling a borehole down inside of a hand-dug well, we were ecstatic when we were seeing positive results and quickly put this school on the list to try the new method. We are so excited we were able to rehabilitate this well for the school and look forward to seeing positive results through our quarterly monitoring and evaluation.
There was another benefit from the creation of this well. Being a hand-dug well, a lot of soil was excavated from the hole. From this soil, the first latrines were constructed at the school. One or two homes in the neighborhood also built their kitchens from the excavated soil.
The first things the drill team did when they arrived at United Brethren Academy Secondary School were to contact school leadership and find a place to set up drill camp. The principal handed over a set of keys so the drill team could store some equipment in a classroom and find a place to sleep overnight.
Here is how we restored clean, reliable water here:
1. Raised the tripod
2. Found the original depth (71 feet)
3. Socketed the pipes
4. Installed temporary drill casing
5. Lined up the drill rods
Drilling by hand is always hard work. They turned the drill bit to get through 10 feet of sand over the course of six hours. The next day they met clay for nine feet to total a depth of 90 feet.
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 66 feet going at 41 liters per minute)
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 team did not want to interrupt the normal school timetable so they left the office around 11:15am, close to the school’s lunch hour. The principal is infrequently found on campus because his office is located in his home so a pupil was selected to accompany the team to the principal’s office. He welcomed the team and then directed them to water user committee leadership. Everyone walked back to school together and then called the students out of class to meet at the well.
Leadership took the opportunity to express gratefulness to the team for both training and drilling this well deeper to hit adequate water. After these words, the students were excited to be invited into the well area to taste the water... which resulted in lots of splashing!