The Church of God (COD) Primary School in Rosint, Sierra Leone, was once an isolated school, but homes now surround it. The field that was reserved for the students is now used daily by two communities. The school is located on the main highway, making it easy to access, which reduces concerns for parents about their children's safety. It was originally on a three-acre piece of land, today reduced to two and a half acres due to encroachment over the years.
The school was built in 1969 by the Church of God missionaries. It was the third school in the entire chiefdom and began with just 50 students. During the 1960s, education in Sierra Leone was reserved for boys, and so there were very few girls in the beginning years. The school later expanded to include girls and now has a student population of 384 students.
The main water well at the school is facing a lot of challenges. First and foremost, it is increasingly unreliable due to a steady drop in the water table as a result of climate change. Over the years, the reduced water table has disrupted water availability, sending the community people and the students to other communities to fetch water. The nearest well to the school is owned by the parents of one of the teachers.
"We employ the help of class prefects to report any trouble makers or assign water duty to them. I dread it whenever the pump is broken because that means we have to go to the community to fetch water," explained Fatama, a student at the school.
The alternate well is located on privately owned land. It is not fenced in and is accessed any time of day by stray animals looking for a puddle of settled water to drink. The settled water creates a breeding atmosphere for mosquitoes and other insects. The well water is only chlorinated when it starts to smell bad, which is typically the smell of a rotting dead animal that fell into the well. It is often weeks or longer, however, before the water is treated and it is safe to drink again. This leaves the well unusable and the students without water in the interim.
There is also a pig pen within sight, which may contribute to further contamination of the water in the well. The numerous contaminants in the well's vicinity increase the chances that anyone who uses this source will eventually become sick from one or more waterborne or water-related illnesses.
What We Can Do:
The proposed project will increase the volume of water in the well and increase the quality. It is going to be converted from a hand-dug well to a borehole. The conversion will deepen the well an additional 20 feet or more, depending on the soil sample.
The well marked for this overhaul is dry for a few 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 to ensure the well supplies water throughout all seasons.
As the team drills, the 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 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.
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.
This training 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.