Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 482 Served

Project Phase: 
Under Community Care
Initial Installation: Jul 2019

Project Features

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SLMB Primary School was constructed in 1994 with the support of an organization that has embarked on school-building as far back as before the civil war. In 1999, only two classrooms were completed and temporary structures were erected to accommodate the population of students.

The school started with 250 students and 10 teachers. It was during the regime of the late Paramount Chief Komkanda that the school became recognized and approved by the government. The school has a present population of 482 students with 8 classrooms and 2 offices.

The school is located on a three-acre plot of land, but over the years due to encroachment from all the four corners the land has been reduced to less than the original size. The field is in front of the school with the water well at the outskirts of the land. The well was constructed on the boundary so the community can fetch water during school hours and not disrupt the learning process.

This well was never dug deep enough to last through the seasonally receding water table. Students must then turn to another open well located at the residence of the headmistress. They must use a rope and bucket to get the water. The fetcher pulls the rope while standing on top of the well base. The feet are positioned two or three feet apart to shoulder width for a firm grip on the cement base with bare feet. A thick nylon rope is tied to the end of a five-gallon container with two holes placed at each side of the container.

The container is lowered until it reaches the bottom. Once filled, it is pulled up and transferred to the container to be carried home. The well is 40 feet deep and a small child cannot hoist the container. With the well base being soaked repeatedly, it becomes too slippery from the wasted water, making it very risky for any person that fetches water.

All of this is done to get water that is open to contamination, thus unsafe for drinking.

The nearest protected water well is located across the street and through some homes. The well is privately owned and operated. They open when they choose and close when they please. In addition to limited access, the road is very busy and poses a risk to the students if they have to cross it on a regular basis.

Headmistress Rosalyn Emma Kamara has worked at the school since 1994. She shared her experiences about how the lack of resources at the school has impacted the students over the years.

I started out as an unqualified teacher and over the years have worked my way up the ranks to finally head the entire school. I have seen my share of good times and bad times. Throughout the years I have seen children with great potential fall through the cracks and never make it out of primary school. It is a sad situation when there is nothing you can do for a vulnerable child. I have seen children come to school with minor to major ailments ranging from skin rashes to severe bouts of typhoid and malaria.

A day never goes by without having handfuls of students absent from school. In some households, children are not provided with a plate of food, Instead, they eat the remnants [leftover by] adults. In most cases, the spoons and cups are reused by the children without washing. Whatever infection the adult has will be most likely be transferred to the children because of a weak immune system.

We have to make sure the children are properly cared for in order for the school and community to curtail the rate of infections. The best we can do for our students is to empower them with proper knowledge about hygiene and sanitation. In turn, they can teach their parents or legal guardians.

Here’s what we’re going to do about it:

Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul is dry for multiple months every year and needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the school 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.

Hygiene and Sanitation Training

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

No handwashing stations were observed here. After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach 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: SLMB Primary School Project Complete

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable water point at SLMB Primary School in Mahera, Sierra Leone that is 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.

"I am 13 years old with hopes of becoming a very valuable member of my community and country. I speak on behalf of the students and myself with sincere thanks and appreciation for the great work you have done for us," said Alex Kamara, the head boy of the school.

"As you can see the dedication is now complete and the children are lining up for a fresh drink of water from the new well. It could not have come at a better time. My fellow students were always running to neighbors homes to beg for water - a very risky behavior that has now come to an end."

Clean Water Restored

Our drill team checked and double-checked they had all the right supplies to rehabilitate the well before working to the job site. The first thing the drill team did when they arrived at SLMB Primary School was to contact the village elders and school administrators to find a place to camp. For 10 days, they stayed at the school and worked on the well.

Here is how we restored clean, reliable water here:

1. Raised the tripod

2. Found the original depth (for this well, we measured 16.85 meters)

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 6-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 pulls a rope through a pulley to raise the rod out of the casing so that two team members can empty the bucket. This process is repeated and the 6-inch pipe is occasionally hammered down in order to keep the borehole straight. The first layer of sand was encountered after 7 feet of drilling with a sand drill bit.

On the second day of drilling, the two drilling rods were disconnected inside the 6-inch casing pipes. A drill team member went down the water well and cut the casing pipe and later used a monkey jack to fish out the two disconnected rods. After the challenge of disconnection was resolved, we drilled 16 feet that day. The following day we drilled an additional 5 feet after encountering once again another delay with the drill bit getting stuck down the 6 inches of casing pipe.

The drill bit was removed and the soil removed was clay sand. The following day, 3.6 more feet were drilled. Our team stopped after reaching a total depth of 80.6 feet. The team knew at this depth, sufficient and clean water could be acquired and the drilling was stopped.

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 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

After all of the work was done, our team notified the community members and school of the dedication ceremony to mark the completion of the project. Our teams say that they witnessed one of the largest crowds they've ever seen for the event. The children were very happy to see us but I think they were more happy to get a drink of clean and safe water in their community.

"The first student that asked for water had the look that a parent can not resist," said one of our field officers. "I proceeded to pump water for that one child and with my back turned, I was greeted by a mob of children all screaming for a drink of water."

The celebrations were memorable, as were the accompanying activities. Upon hearing that the supporter for the project is an athlete, the students participated in a series of events to demonstrate their own athletic abilities. The races and weight lifting further contributed to the joyous atmosphere at the dedication.

New Knowledge

Before any hygiene training, repeated phone calls and visits are made to the committee to help them understand the challenges and lack of sanitation facilities in the community. The findings from our baseline survey are brought to the attention of the water user committee to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training or drilling can commence. When all the necessary and required guidelines are met, then and only then does our team of hygiene trainers go to conduct the training.

In this specific community, the training was held months before the drill team was deployed to the site. The community engagement team comes in again at this juncture to make sure that all the tippy taps, latrines, dishracks, clotheslines, and bathing shelters are still in place from the time of the hygiene training.

Training topics covered included:

- Handwashing and tippy tap
- Good and bad hygiene
- Healthy and unhealthy community
- Diseases transmission story
- Dish racks and clotheslines
- Worms and parasites
- Proper care of the teeth
- Proper care of the pump
- Keeping the water clean
- The cost recovery system
- Dishracks and clotheslines
- The importance of toilets
- Keeping the latrine clean
- Balanced diets
- Diarrhea doll
- HIV and AIDS

Gathering the people for the training was as easy as taking a cake from a baby. The water user committee was contacted and they arranged the presence of the training participants. The entire school population and the proposed beneficiaries were present for the training. In total, more than 500 people attended the three days of training.

There was full participation from the water user committee which included members from the community. The committee is made of teachers and community members, both men and women. The students took a full part in the three days of hygiene training along with the parents of the primary school students.

The parents were more excited than any other group of people about the proposed project because it will be a great development and sigh of relief for the students that are faced with the dangers of having to cross the busy Mahera road to fetch drinking water for their respective classrooms. The first three days were for the hygiene team to pass on valuable information to the students and teachers.

The training finished with rave reviews from all parties involved.

"I’m so happy about this hygiene training. It has really given me, the community, and my students a better understanding of keeping our bodies healthy with the addition of safe drinking water," said Rosaline Emma Kamara, the Head Mistress of the school.

"Change is happening now, and my teachers and I feel empowered to have these life-saving skills from this hygiene training."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2019: SLMB Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at SLMB 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 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!

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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!


Project Sponsor - Sydney's Well