Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/30/2024

Project Features

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Lungi community is a rural area that is fast growing in popularity and development. The Susu and Mandingo people are the primary residents of this community. They are descendants of settlers that came from Guinea and generations later have made Lungi their home.

This is a rural community that prides itself on agriculture and fishing. Onions, tomatoes, and eggplant are the most popular items that people grow. It is a vegetated community with a lush and green landscape even during the hottest time of the dry seasons. The community is surrounded by very fertile swamps that produce food during the dry and rainy seasons.

It used to be a quiet and serene environment, but then came the development that is fast turning the community into a business center. There are still signs of the old days in the style of buildings that line the streets. In the old days, houses were built to be very large. The style is easily recognized among the recent buildings. The homes that are in the community range from mud blocks to cement blocks and cement plastering.

Holy Cross Primary School is located on the outskirts of town, always an ideal location for any school to limit the level of interruptions to the school children. The Catholic parish that is the founding father of the Holy Cross Primary School is about 200 meters from the doorsteps of the school.

The school was established by Catholic Missionaries on January 24, 1958. The school was started with no school building, so the home of the missionaries was used to school the students that enrolled during the first year. The teacher in charge was the late Mr. PL Lahai from the Magburaka training college. The first head teacher after a building was erected was Patrick Turay, with a total of 30 students.

Some 23 of the students were boys and 7 girls. The school has improved over the years and with the surge in the school population, so has the need for more buildings grown. There are 880 students, teachers, and staff today. The school has improved to 3 buildings, a full composting sanitation project, and a water well.

The main problem people in the community and the school face is that the protected water point stops working during the dry season. When that happens, the students and community members who rely on the well must travel to the nursery school down the street or a scoop hole located at the bottom of a hill even further away. These 2 solutions are problematic because they require the students to take time out of class to get enough water. The nursery school well is already busy. When the students from Holy Cross use it that means that the nursery school students have less access to their own water point. And the scoop hole is an open and unsafe water source that can cause the students to fall ill and miss even more class time.

The rate of students contracting diarrhea increased during the last dry season, reported Deputy Head Teacher Mariatu Gbla to us during a recent visit. It is to the benefit of the school and community to have this water point operational year-round.

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

Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul 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 combination 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 3 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 hands-free 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 to keep them away from people's food and water.

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

February, 2020: Holy Cross Primary School Project Complete!

We are excited to share that there is a safe, reliable water point at Holy Cross 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.

"Words cannot begin to express the happiness and gratitude I have as a parent and a teacher," said Mariatu Gbla, a teacher at the school.

Clean Water Restored

Our first step in the process was making sure all equipment and supplies had been checked and double-checked before the drill team deployed to the site. A spot not too far from the well was chosen for the drill team's supplies and cordoned off from being accessed by the community members. The team stayed the night before starting work first thing the next day.

There were no delays or challenges to the normal construction process. 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 27.27 meters with the water at 19.7 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

The project was completed and handed over to the school and community just in time for the children to get a taste of the clean water before the close of the school. The students were very happy with the progress and efforts made in providing them with clean water year-round. The water well was dedicated on a Friday morning with the presence of the local councilor and the representative from the inspector's office.

The turnout was great for both pupils and teachers. The teachers were equally happy for the water as for the effort they made in cleaning up their compound along with their latrines thanks to the new well.

"We are very grateful for the constant supply of water that has been provided for the school. I used to watch my school take the steep and bushy road down to the wharf area to fetch water from a very contaminated water source," said Teacher Gbla.

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 turnout was excellent and better than expected. More than 225 students and community members were in attendance. "Sometimes to get results, one has to ruffle some feathers," said one of our field officers with a smile while reflecting on the day. The pressure was put on the school administration to make sure that there is money put aside for the person responsible for the daily cleaning of the school compound and latrines. The mention of the inspector's presence got all of the teachers involved in the cleaning; in the past, such activities were left in the hands of the upper-class primary students only.

It was a sunny day so the group sought the shade of large mango trees near the water point. The waves from the Atlantic Ocean could be heard about 200 meters away from the school. The air tasted like salt from the mist rising off of the nearby wharf, and the smell of fish was noticeable the moment we entered the school compound. The pupils were out with their class benches ready for the first day of the hygiene training.

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.

"I have been a teacher for over a decade and every day I am still learning new things," said Mohamed Bangura, a teacher at the school.

"The second day, my opinion was changed and I felt less sure about what I actually know. When washing hands, I had never considered the wasting of water but simply the washing. I definitely know that this training has already and will continue to change my life for the better."

After completion of the hygiene training, the students went through an additional training session to help our team celebrate Global Handwashing Day at the school. The teachers and community people also took part in teaching the training topics as the training progressed.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Holy Cross Primary School project underway

A severe clean water shortage at Holy Cross Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point 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 more good news!

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!