Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 458 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/14/2024

Project Features

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The well at DEC Makassa Primary School is in very good order and the school maintains it throughout the year.

There is just one problem: It runs dry at various points throughout the year.

When there is no water, the 458 students and staff must turn to the nearest swamp to meet their daily needs. Not only is the swamp two kilometers away, but the water is unsafe for consumption. As a result, students lose valuable school time traveling back and forth to the source just to get water that is prone to making them ill so that they miss even more school.

"The only problem we face is when the water quantity in the well falls. Our kids would be required to go to neighboring communities to fetch water. Under this circumstance, our sanitation would be largely undermined," said Headteacher Sulaiman Conteh.

Most of the students come from very poor homes with parents who cannot afford daily lunch for their school-going kids. So, they rely on water to curb their hunger pangs.

Acute water shortage in this school when the well is dry also exposes the school and its surrounding community to a host of compromised hygiene and sanitation issues.

This well needs to be converted from a hand-dug well to a borehole using a hand drill method, because it needs additional depth to eliminate the chances of dryness in the dry season. It is advisable to have its pump changed because the current pump is old.

The well marked for this overhaul is dry for multiple months at a time and needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the community year round. The pump will be removed, and a hand auger will be lowered inside and powered by a drill team. 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 all seasons.

As the team drills, casing will be installed, transforming the bottom of this hand-dug well into a 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.

To further improve the sanitation and hygiene situation here, there will be training sessions offered for three days in a row.

After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach students and community members how to build a tippy tap (a handwashing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for handwashing demonstrations, and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.

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.

Project Updates

July, 2019: DEC Makassa School Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable water point at DEC Makassa School that’s already providing clean water to students and neighboring community members! Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted at the school, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines.

Clean Water Restored

This well was a hand-dug well but we have now converted it to a borehole using the hand drill system.

"I am very happy for this well," said Mohamed Kamara, a 13-year-old student.

"In the past, when this well is not functioning, we would go across the street to fetch water in the swamp. Now we don't have to cross the busy road to drink dirty water!"

The team consulted with the headteacher who in turn met with the former headmistress. Together they invited the community headman to inform him about the presence of the team. A formal introduction of the team members was made and the agreement to lodge them in the former headmistress’s quarter was reached. The team immediately packed their gear in and settled for other tasks.

Here is how we restored clean, reliable water here:

1. Raised the tripod

2. Found the original depth (for this well, we measured 19.4m)

3. Socketed the pipes

4. Installed casing

5. Lined up the drill rods

6. Drilled!

The team removed the hatch cover first thing in the morning and lowered a temporary six-inch PVC pipe through the open hatch to the bottom of the well. The bucket auger drill bit was connected to the drilling rod and lowered inside the temporary casing to the bottom of the well. Each drilling rod is 18 feet long. A team member pulled a rope through a pulley to raise the rod out of the casing so that two team members could empty the bucket.

The drilling was stopped at a total depth of 25m. The team was very confident that the reached total depth would produce the desired quantity of water, safe and clean water that will pass the water quality testing and to serve the community throughout the year without drying.

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

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

12. Installed a stainless steel India Mk11 pump

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

13. Water quality test


The day of the dedication coincided with the school’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting. This played well into the hands of the team and they took full advantage of this occasion. Gently, the team pleaded with the administration to allow them do the dedication before the meeting. The request was readily granted and this transformed the event into a mini carnival.

These people really displayed their appreciation of the project on this day. Madam Safiatu Koroma was the leading vocalist and she never stopped singing... The singing and dancing were so enjoyable that even the teachers could not wait to be invited into the fray.

The headteacher, Mr. Sulayman Conteh, and the former headmistress all had their contribution to the celebration. At some point, the community people took the dancing to the headmistress’s quarter to show her their appreciation for her continued support to the school. They were not disappointed; she sang and danced with them to everyone’s amazement.

New Knowledge

The team went through the baseline survey document to ascertain the hygiene and sanitation situation in this school and its surrounding community. The survey was conducted prior to training so that the team planed their lessons ahead of time. Armed with this information, the team prepared the materials to meet the training requirement of this site.

After arranging the materials and packing them into the box, they contacted the headmaster to agree on a date for the training. The team arrived here at 10:30 every day. Their arrival was always a trigger for the headmaster’s action of alerting every class along with the teacher in charge.

The teacher in charge then marched the pupils with their benches to the venue. We used a different tool for recruiting the surrounding community people: the megaphone.

The teachers did a very wonderful job even before the team showed up. The team was very impressed to learn upon arrival that the teachers had already instructed the kids to prepare the venue. That was surely a sign of full enthusiasm for the training and the team took full advantage of that.

Training topics covered included:

  • Handwashing and tippy tap construction
  • Good and Bad hygiene
  • Healthy and unhealthy communities
  • Disease transmission stories
  • Dental care
  • Balanced diets
  • Treating diarrhea with ORS
  • Diarrhea
  • Dish racks
  • Keeping the water clean
  • Proper care of the pump
  • Importance of having and using a latrine

The participants were involved with every demonstration, from tippy taps to diseases transmission stories to teeth hygiene. The participants were themselves the demonstrators which made it very interesting. Kids, in particular, like to experiment and in the process learn the more.

Leveling the ground for every participant’s involvement and participation transforms the training into a very interactive session. One of the participants confessed that she wished the training would be extended for more than just the three days. She was particularly delighted in the topics that had something to do with her home economics lessons: learning about a healthy and unhealthy community, dental hygiene, balanced diets, and good and bad hygiene.

The impact of the training was apparent at the end of every day by the smiles and hugs we received from participants.

Thank You for making all of this possible!

May, 2019: DEC Makassa Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at DEC Makassa Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by restoring clean water to a well and much more.

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

Project Photos

Project Type

Abundant water is often right under our feet! Beneath the Earth’s surface, rivers called aquifers flow through layers of sediment and rock, providing a constant supply of safe water. For borehole wells, we drill deep into the earth, allowing us to access this water which is naturally filtered and protected from sources of contamination at the surface level. First, we decide where to drill by surveying the area and determining where aquifers are likely to sit. To reach the underground water, our drill rigs plunge through meters (sometimes even hundreds of meters!) of soil, silt, rock, and more. Once the drill finds water, we build a well platform and attach a hand pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around five gallons of water per minute! Learn more here!

Giving Update: DEC Makassa Primary School

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped DEC Makassa Primary School in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Jatu Bah. 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 Makassa Primary School.

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

"It was challenging to get water in the school in the dry season when the pump gets dried. The student will go all the way to the stream to get water for their classrooms, which sometimes leads them to be late for classes. Even in the previous pump, it was hard to get water during the dried season because there was not sufficient water in the pump to supply the school not to talk about the community," said Jatu Bah.

"It is effortless now to get water from this well. Presently the pump's handle is very soft and easy to swing. The students now have clean, safe, and available water in the school. And this has impacted our lives greatly in the area of safe drinking water and also the sanitation aspect of the school environment."

"As a teacher, this water point has helped me to control the pupils from going out frequently to fetch water to drink. Now there is water in all of the classrooms I can now teach with no disturbance of pupils going out and in."

Jatu Bah

"I don't go to school late anymore, and my performance in class has grown positively. It has helped me activated my academic excellence, which was dropped due to not having time to study," said 13-year-old student Zainab.


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 Makassa 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 Makassa 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.


Westchester Rotary Foundation
The Hermosillo Family
York Alliance Church & Thrive
WaterSmart Software
Coleman Middle School - 6th gr Genius Hour Class
Blair Road PS grade 2/3A
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Green Glade Senior Public School
Mrs. Boyd's 2nd Period at Blackman High School
La Roche University's Campaign for Water
91 individual donor(s)