January, 2022: Kamasondo, Makontho Village Well Rehabilitation Complete!
We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at Makontho Village 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.
"The access to reliable and safe water from this water point has had a great impact on my life," said Adamsay K., 17.
She continued, "I no longer have to walk through footpaths to the next village to fetch water every day, early in the morning, and in the afternoon after I come home from school. It is not easy to be a girl in a village. We are not allowed to complain, and that is why some girls decide to get married and start with their family at a very early age. All the work is done by us but with little or no reward."
Adamsay gives a speech at the dedication.
Adamsay concluded, "The less time I spend fetching water translates to more time for me to study and take extra classes for my exams. The only way to achieve good scores in school is to put the time in and study. I plan on making sure I improve my scores in school and am able to move to senior secondary school."
We were impressed with the level of involvement by the male youth of this community. In most communities we have visited, typically, the activities that have to do with water are for women and young girls. But in this community, the young men were fed up with having women and their daughters going to the next village to fetch drinking water, where they faced unwanted advances. The completion of the project made them ecstatic.
Village elders using clean water.
We held a dedication ceremony to hand over the well to the community members officially. The neighboring community of Robombeh came to share in Makonthos joy and shared a feast with them. The women sang songs in Temne, the tribal language, praising the donors and everyone involved in the project.
Joyful for clean water.
Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including a Ministry of Water Resources member, the Port Loko District Council Representative, and the local Councilor. The chiefdom leader could not attend but sent his older brother, a regent chief, to come on his behalf. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. People from other villages stopped to admire the well and asked how their communities could be recipients. The ceremony concluded with singing, drumming, and dancing.
Women celebrating clean water!
Fatmata Kanu, a 25-year-old trader, said, "The positive impact having access to safe water has on my life is endless. For starters, I am able to prepare my food very early for my family so I can put more time into my business. Getting clean water can make all the difference in a person's life."
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 12.07 meters with water at 6.88 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.
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!
"There are so many things that this water point is going to help me achieve. As a petty trader making foodstuff and anything I can get my hands on to sell, I now have more time to go to the open market and sell my food," said Fatmata.
She continued, "I can now plant my vegetables closer to the village with ease. I know my family will make more money this coming year because the number of times I buy medicine for myself or my children is going to reduce."
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.
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 attendees found both the sustainability and personal hygiene sessions highly engaging. They are happy to have a properly functioning water point and were interested in keeping it sustainable. They decided the money collected each month will be kept safe until it is needed for repairs by a community member different from the landowner to discourage any misuse of funds.
Mohamed Kamara, 56, said, "As a former Councilor, I have always thought of such training as a way of fulfilling government requirements, but never as a life-saving tool. I have gained a lot of knowledge about my personal hygiene and my environment. As a teacher, I am going to make sure my students and teachers benefit greatly from this information."
Isha Kamara, 25, also a teacher, learned valuable information during the training. She said, "With every illness, there is always bound to be myths that most times overshadow reality. This training was valuable to me in more ways than I would have ever imagined. I have been made aware of the do's and don'ts when a person is showing symptoms. Proper hygiene is a major part of staying healthy."
She continued, "This training has created a positive impact on my life and my child. I am more aware of my surroundings, and I find myself cleaning and washing things up faster throughout the day."
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!