Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 664 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/16/2024

Project Features

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Gbaneh Bana's well is dry most of the year. This leaves the 664 community members with only one option: a nearby stream.

I remember as a small boy growing up in the village having no other source of drinking water but the stream. At the time, my grandmother knew no better, and even if she did, there was no other source of drinking water. That was more than 40 years ago. Still, the children of Gbaneh Bana face these conditions. Back then, the danger from fertilizers was not as rampant as it is now. Looking at the faces of these children, I see myself.

I went down the hill to inspect the water source, and, to be honest, there will never be a second time. It was so difficult that I ended up crawling on my hands and knees to make it back up. All this happened with no water on my head.

Community elders advise anybody fetching water to do so in daylight to avoid accidents. Groups of people go at a time, forming a chain to pass the water more easily up the hill. People prefer to use closed containers so they can avoid spillage while fighting to make it up the hill. Steps have been cut into the hill to allow easier access, but still, women are strongly discouraged from carrying a child on their backs while trying to climb or go down the hill.

The road leading to the stream is a footpath surrounded by vegetation, which increases the chances of being bitten by snakes or poisonous spiders. The person fetching also stands a chance of bringing home a leech, which can be unknowingly scooped and carried home.

And, on top of all this, fetchers need to cross the busy main road (seen in the background of the picture below) in order to fetch water, which is especially dangerous for children.

14-year-old Mohamed K. said, "Apart from fetching water for my house, I also fetch water for other people in the community for a small stipend. I gather empty containers from members of the community with my friends and go down the stream to fetch water for them. There is an old wheelbarrow that we use after bringing the water up the hill. The wheelbarrow helps us greatly and we are able to make money for our lunch at school. The most difficult time is early in the morning when we have to make our way to the stream; the water from the dew soaks our feet."

Although the stream provides sufficient water for the community all year, the water quality is unsafe. Standing by the stream, one can see tadpoles, fish, and algae in the water. It is also contaminated by runoff from the road and farms uphill.

According to interviewees, the reported consequences of using water from both the stream and the community's well (when it's functioning) range from a minor stomachache to diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, typhoid and, the deadliest of all, cholera. The lack of frequent clinic or hospital visits tends to drive a situation from not so bad to deadly. And, some villagers believe sickness is the handiwork of supernatural forces that can only be defeated with the use of indigenous medicines.

"I am the current headman of the Gbaneh Bana community," said Peter Kamara, 50. "I have lived in the community my entire life. I am not the oldest, but I have been chosen to lead my people. Having been entrusted with such an honor by my peers and endorsed by the local chiefs and Paramount, it is my responsibility to make sure all areas of the village with issues are addressed. I cannot get over having my children and other children in the community risking their lives day after day to bring water back home."

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

Well Rehabilitation

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 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.

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

January, 2022: Gbaneh Bana Well Rehab Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at Gbaneh Bana in Sierra Leone is now 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.

"I am happy today for this water well," said 15-year-old Mohamed K. "Long ago, we the school children in Gbaneh Bana community faced challenges fetching water from the swamp through a hilly and bushy road. Most times, we [would] even fall and have a cut on our feet or hand that caused us [to be] always late or absent from school."

"We the students are thanking you for giving us [a] safe and pure water well in this community," Mohamed continued. "This has rested a fear of fetching water from the swamp, thinking about the bad road condition and wild animals in the bush. With this water well, I can now bathe on time and go to school early. After school, I will have time to read my books because the water well is now at my doorstep."

Peter Kamara, the chief of Gbaneh Bana community, also expressed his thanks for the newly rehabilitated well. "I am extremely glad today for this water well we have gotten. Before, we struggled to fetch water from the swamp on a dangerous road at a distance [of] about 400 meters away from our houses. Even though the water was not pure to drink, we had no choice to drink it. Today, we are happy."

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. The ceremony was attended by several local dignitaries from the Port Loko District Council and the Ministry of Water Resources as well as the Chief Imam from the nearby Masjid Kuba Mosque. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Mohamed and Peter made statements on their community's behalf.

The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing. Community people were in a jubilant mood, singing in their local language (Krio and Temne), and drumming on water containers.

Clean Water Restored

The drill team arrived the day before beginning work. They set up camp and unpacked all of their tools and supplies to prepare for drilling the next day. The community provided space for the team to store their belongings, along with meals for the duration of their stay. The following day, the work began.

First, we raised the tripod, the structure we use to hold and maneuver each of the drilling tools. Next, we measured the well's original depth. We then socketed the pipes and installed a casing.

Finally, we lined up the drill rods and started to drill! We reached a final depth of 17 meters with water at eight 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.

With drilling complete, we installed screening and a filter pack to keep out debris when the water is pumped. We then cemented an iron rod to the well lining and fixed it with an iron collar at the top. Next, we bailed the well by hand for three days and flushed it, clearing any debris generated by the drilling process. Finally, we tested the yield to ensure the well would provide clean water with minimal effort at the pump.

Bailing out the well.

As the project neared completion, we built a cement platform, walls, and drainage system around the well to seal it off from surface-level contaminants. The drainage system helps to redirect runoff and spilled water to help avoid standing water at the well, which can not only be uncomfortable but unhygienic and a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

At last, we installed the stainless steel India Mk11 pump and conducted a water quality test. The test results showed that this is clean water fit for drinking!

New Knowledge

Before conducting any hygiene training, we made repeated phone calls and visits to the local water user committee to better understand the community’s challenges and lack of sanitation facilities. We shared the findings from our discussions with the committee members to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training began. For example, we identified households without handwashing stations or ones that may need to repair their latrines. With this information, community members worked together to improve hygiene and sanitation at home.

After this preparatory period, we scheduled a time when members from each household using the water point could attend a multi-day hygiene and sanitation training. We then dispatched our teams to the agreed-upon location to hold the meeting.

Each household sent more than one representative for each of the training's three days, which is incredibly impressive, and shows how deeply they have committed to changing their community standards for the better.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, disease transmission and prevention, worms and parasites, dental hygiene, proper care of the well's pump, keeping the water clean, the cost recovery system, dish racks and clotheslines, the importance of toilets, keeping latrines clean, balanced diets, the diarrhea doll, and HIV and AIDS.

The topic that had the most impact on Gbaneh Bana's people was childhood nutrition, during which many people found they had been depriving their children of necessary nutrients because of traditional beliefs and superstition. Some of the foods that had been taboo for children in this community were ripe fruits (especially bananas), fish, and boiled eggs. After a great deal of discussion, everyone present agreed that they would no longer forbid their children from eating these things.

"I have realized that no foods are forbidden for children to eat, especially fish, meat, or fruits because they give their bodies the necessary elements it needs for growth and good health," said Alusine Kamara, a 35-year-old trader who attended the training. "Moreover, I have gained knowledge on how diseases are being transmitted to us. That is why I am asking my fellow community members to not only hear the advice from this training but to take the knowledge home [and] put them into good practice so that we all will live happily."

The three-legged stool serves as a visual metaphor for the three facets of childhood nutrition: protein, fruits/vegetables, and carbs.

Another topic where people made many realizations about symptoms their children had been exhibiting was the lesson on local worms and parasites. They learned that many of the symptoms they had been attributing to witchcraft or regular illnesses (like protruding belly, anemia, and muscle atrophy) are caused by worms and parasites that can enter the body through the soles of bare feet.

"The training was so important to me because it has helped me understand things that [I] never considered that are important in my daily life," Alusine said. "I have come to understand that worm infestation can never result from eating certain foodstuffs like fish and palm nut, but through barefoot walking and through the taking in of contaminated foods and water."

One of the village elders, Pa Foday Kanu, expressed how happy he was to receive the new ideas from the training. He asked his fellow community members to adhere to the advice from the training. He explained how he will never forget that he is an African man, which means he still has traditional beliefs, but he advised everyone to minimize their cultural beliefs because we are now in a new era of modernization.

Mohamed Kamara promised that the community would take good care of their new resource. "We will set up bylaws to protect the water well from harmful practices and we will contribute money to repair the water well if the pump is broken down in the future. We promise to keep the water well surrounding always clean."

When an issue arises concerning the well, community members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2021: Kamasondo, Bross 1 Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Bross 1 drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this 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 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!

A Year Later: Enough water to drink!

March, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Gbaneh Bana Community in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Idrisa. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Gbaneh Bana Community.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gbaneh Bana Community 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!

Before we rehabilitated the well in Gbana Bana last year people used to trek down a dangerous hill to reach a local stream that only offered them contaminated water.

"Before this time, we, the children of this village, went through many constraints because of the unavailability of [a] water facility. We used to go down the swamp to fetch water, [and] we usually go to school late," said 12-year-old Idrisa B.

But since the well rehabilitation, it has been much easier for everyone to quickly and safely access water to meet all of their daily needs giving them back much of their time.

"Having pure and safe drinking water was our plan. [We hoped] that someday we would go to school on time and never go to the swamp again," said Idrisa. "Right now, we are so happy for the availability of safe drinking water. And after school, when we return home, we have enough water to drink and wash our uniforms [and] ready them for the next day."

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 Gbaneh Bana Community 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 Gbaneh Bana Community – 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.


Project Sponsor - StossWater