January, 2022: Lower Kamara Street Mosque Well Rehab Complete!
We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at Lower Kamara Street, Masoila in Sierra Leone is now providing clean water to community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.
"Before, we were struggling to fetch water," said 38-year-old trader, Angelina Sesay. "We were only depending on the surface water dug hole at the swamp area to fetch water as our main source. This water was not pure to drink and cook [with] because it is open to contamination."
Angelina's speech at the well dedication ceremony.
"Now that our community water point has been rehabilitated, we can do all our domestic work on time," Angelina continued. "Today, the water challenge crisis is over, because the water point is looking better than before, and very protected. The water is very, very clean, safe, and pure to drink."
18-year-old Isatu K. explained why the rehabilitated well means so much to her and her community. "Before it was difficult for us to fetch safe pure water for drinking and cooking. Also, most times we school children struggled to launder our uniforms on time."
Isatu, in the red shirt, cups her hands beneath the flowing water.
"We now have enough water to launder, bathe, and for cleaning cooking utensils," Isatu continued. "We the school children will take the responsibility to clean our community water source every week on Sunday so that [our] water source [will] not be contaminated."
We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand the rehabilitated well over to the community. As a sign of how much they paid attention at the hygiene and sanitation training, community members constructed a handwashing station in front of the well and used it to demonstrate their new handwashing skills.
Councilor Abubakarr Bangura celebrates with community members.
The ceremony was attended by several local dignitaries from the Port Loko District Council, the Ward Council, and the Ministry of Water Resources. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Angelina and Isatu made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with a lot of celebration, singing, and dancing.
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 nine 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.
Community members assist with the yield test.
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!
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 mosque to hold the meeting. We hosted four days of training, with an average of 71 people attending each day.
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 most engaging topic for the Lower Kamara Street group was disease transmission, during which they would sort posters showing how diseases spread in order. The topic inspired lively debate among the community members, some of whom accused others of bad practices like open defecation.
Training participants sorting the disease transmission posters.
The Imam, Pa Samba, called everyone to order and concluded the issue by testifying that all the houses around the mosque are guilty, because he has heard quarrels about these issues many times. He reminded everyone to take heed of the training, since being a Muslim means practicing cleanliness.
Another favorite topic of discussion and demonstration was handwashing. Competitions broke out between men and women of who could best wash their hands to the training's specifications. Imam Pa Samba said that, after the training, he will make sure worshippers use soap while performing their ablutions in the future rather than just using water as they had before.
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!