What used to be a quiet and bushy area has now become the central location within the Masoila community. New homes are being built daily, and with them comes the need for more easily accessible water sources.
The primary school's compound is less than 500 meters away from the junior and secondary schools' compounds. RC Primary School was constructed in 1974 by the Catholic Mission and began with just 50 students in three classrooms. Today, the primary school has grown to 584 students in 17 classrooms.
The primary school's well is the only water point that is regularly maintained in this area. The total volume of water in the well has dropped over the years, however, making the water point unable to provide enough water for the school and surrounding community. The biggest issue is during the dry season when people have to wait for the well to recharge with water before they are able to fill their buckets.
The long lines also make the well inconvenient and difficult to access. The frustrations of the long lines send people who cannot wait to other areas with less safe water sources that are not treated or monitored.
"My family comes all the way to the primary school to fetch water for us at home. At the beginning of the year, the pump was nonfunctional for a period of two weeks, and I will pray never to experience that hardship again. The two weeks ended up feeling like two months. Imagine hundreds of school children wanting to drink and use the latrine, and there is no water," said the primary school's Head Teacher Alex Dawo.
The brunt of the water crisis here falls on the students. The school's Head Girl, Fatmata, told us that she sometimes has to travel to the nearest community well to get water for the school because of the issues at the school well. Other wells in the area also face issues during the dry season, leading Fatama to travel even further to get water.
"I find myself standing on the side of the road with a heavy container filled with water waiting to cross. The bike riders see me with the heavy container on my head, and no one will wait for me to cross," she said.
"One day, I stood waiting with the heavy bucket bearing down on my head with the steady flow of bikes passing me by. With no energy no longer left in me, I had to throw the container on the ground to get some relief."
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
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. There is a large number of community houses that greatly benefit from the main water source. The community will be allowed access very early in the morning and the afternoon when school is out for the day. It is also made available for the community during the weekend.
We will remove the pump, 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 quality and quantity, even through the dry months.
Hygiene and Sanitation Training
Our team will offer hygiene and sanitation training sessions for three consecutive days. 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.