Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 319 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/27/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Gbonkogbonko is an interior community that has all its natural vegetation intact. The large trees and the long palm trees refine the gentle sea wind from the Atlantic Ocean, providing a very cool atmosphere for the entire village.

The houses are typical of that of a traditional Bullom setting. The majority of them are built from locally made mud blocks with some cement plastering.

This lush vegetation blesses the community with farmlands from where community people derive their livelihood. Most people here engage in different types of farming in order to make multiple "ends" meet. For example, there are people here who plant cassava and do swampland farming. Down at the swamp, they grow vegetables. There are also those who plant rice and vegetables. Still, there are others who harvest palm kernels for the production of palm oil. A not-too-active group domesticates animals to sell to customers who later take the products to the one-day markets around the chiefdom. However, most of the produce ends up in the capital city, Freetown.

Kankalay Primary School came into being thanks to a farmers association named "Ta Ninke Su," which means "please help us." The association, wanting to seek government support through the Agricultural Ministry, approached the head office in Freetown for help. The head office said that a school in the community is required before they lend their support.

Upon their return, the farmers called the community together and explained their experience. The community resolved to have a school started that day while meeting under a cola nut tree. 56 pupils were enrolled; 36 boys and 20 girls. In 1999, they relocated to late Pa Lamin Kamara’s house. The enrollment was now up to 100; 59 boys and 41 girls. In 2001, the community mobilized to construct a three-classroom mud brick structure for classes one to three.

The school has continued to grow to a present enrollment of 312 students. It has managed to improve academically over the same period, but it faces one significant challenge - the lack of access to water.

A hand-dug well is on the school grounds, but it runs dry most of the year and does not even have a pump to fetch water when it is actually available. Hand-dug wells have always run dry at the time people need them the most. Often, they are not dug deep enough to sustain year-round water availability.

As a result, this school’s current water source is the nearest swamp. The road to the swamp is long and overgrown. This is a natural source with heavy reliance on the weather. Two seasons determine the water quantity at the swamp: the rainy and the dry seasons. The rainy season supplies the swamp with enough water for the community's domestic and farming uses, while the dry season drains most of this supply.

When the dry season peaks, water quantity can drop so low and forces people to dig more holes further down into the swamp to scoop water, and this is when it becomes even deadlier to drink from this source.

"Living with the thoughts of cholera and diarrhea attack is even more psychologically torturing," explained Hassan Bangura.

"I always have oral rehydration salts (a treatment to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea) on standby in my home because I am always thinking of the contaminant level of our drinking water."

The acute water shortage here compels the students to drink water fetched from very contaminated sources. Drinking water from contaminated sources exposes the people to deadly waterborne diseases. To make matters worse, there is no health center in this community or its neighboring community. People rely on street peddlers who are mostly not trained to administer drugs. Too much money is spent on expired drugs that compound the problem.

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

Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul is 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.

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 hand-washing 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

April, 2020: Kankalay Primary School Project Complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into place.

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable water point at Kankalay Primary School in Sierra Leone that is already providing clean water to students and neighboring community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.

"This water point will reduce the distance that our women and children cover to fetch water every day. Our children walked 2 miles to fetch water. With this new water point, I hope we are all safe from not only covering the long distance to get water but from various diseases from drinking the dirty water we once got," said Iye Kamara, a woman who lives in the community.

"We are so grateful to the organization and the donors. May God bless them."

Clean Water Restored

The drilling team deployed on a Thursday at about 4:00 in the afternoon. Their warm reception was not a surprise because the community engagement team gave prior notification to the school and the community about the team's impending arrival. After acquaintance, they were offered a classroom in the school for lodging and storing the equipment and a community member was assigned to them for the cooking while they worked for 3 days on the well.

Here is how we restored clean, reliable water here:

- Raised the tripod

- Found the original depth

- Socketed the pipes

- Installed casing

- Lined up the drill rods

- Drilled!
We reached a final depth of 20.9 meters with the water at 10.9 meters. The hand-drill method allowed the team to install the cylinder far below the aquifer so that the community has great water access throughout the year.

- Installed screening and filter pack

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

- Bailed the well by hand for 3 days and flushed it

- Tested the yield

- Built a cement platform, walls, and drainage system

- Installed a stainless steel India Mk11 pump

- Conducted a water quality test

After everything was complete, we arranged for a dedication ceremony with the school and community. The school administration and community stakeholders were in full attendance. The team leader warmly thanked those present for leaving their tight schedule to grace this occasion. She briefly explained the plan for a cost recovery system to the people for the sustainability of the pump.

After her statement, the rolling of the traditional drums took the platform in which Yan Doe Kamara became the limelight of the village for her outstanding and melodious voice.

Town Chief

The school headmaster was so overwhelmed with joy he was dancing at the well site. In his statement to the group, he said he was happy about the water point and he emphasized how this well has helped his school and the community in diverse ways. Several other speakers also made statements revolving around thanksgiving and appreciation. It was a joyous occasion for all present.

New Knowledge

Before conducting any hygiene training, we made repeated phone calls and visits to the local water user committee to better understand the challenges and lack of sanitation facilities in the community. We brought the findings from our baseline survey to the attention of the committee to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training or drilling could commence. When all the necessary guidelines were met, only then did our team of hygiene trainers go to conduct the training.

The training was conducted in a very peaceful environment. The weather was very favorable for the training as there was sunshine throughout the 3 days of training. More than 375 members of the community and the school were in attendance after seeing the success of the project. The participation was very high among the participants as there were contributions and comments during training. The eagerness of this community made the team very pleased with their performance.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps; good and bad hygiene; disease transmission and prevention; worms and parasites; proper care of 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; the diarrhea doll; and HIV and AIDS.

The participants were involved in all the topics discussed for the 3 days of training. They were included in displaying and explaining the disease transmission story posters, the good and bad hygiene discussion, making tippy-tap handwashing stations, and in the handwashing demonstrations. Participants asked and answered a lot of questions during the training.

"This training will change my personal hygiene practices and the way my surroundings should look. I will put this into practice and make sure that my family washes their hands after the toilet," said Sulaiman Kamara, a community youth leader.

"I am going to teach this lesson over and over in my school so that the kids will not forget what was taught here."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

February, 2020: Kankalay Primary School

Dirty water is making students in Kankalay Primary School sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install 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 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!


Project Sponsor - The Patyrak Family
2 individual donor(s)