Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 450 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/22/2024

Project Features

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Lungi, Bombeh is a tranquil residential area with cool and clear weather. There is a large swamp area with gardens nearby and a community well where people get their drinking water.

Sierra Leone Muslim Community (SLMC) Primary School was founded by the current headteacher, Mr. Ibrahim Koba Sesay, in 2007. Mr. Sesay saw the constraints of the local children in accessing education, so he approached the community to help build a primary school. Currently, the school has an enrollment of 223 boys and 217 girls. The school has a single building with six classrooms and an office.

Water is challenging to access in Bombeh. Most students come to school late due to fetching water for their homes before coming to school. Some even skip school to search for drinking water in the community, especially when the weather becomes hot in the dry season.

There is a well on the school campus, but it is in disrepair and does not provide enough water. Every morning, once at school, students are selected to fetch water from the main alternate water source, the community well. These students walk to fetch water, and most times, have to wait because the well is overcrowded, which wastes much of their time and leads to them missing lessons.

During lunch hours, the school children play, and after playing, they need water to clean themselves before going back to their various classes to continue lessons. It is challenging for them to access water to clean up and drink within the school grounds. Those who are strong will go to the alternate water source, but most of the younger students will prefer to use the little water stored at the latrines to clean up and drink from the reserve water in the bucket meant for handwashing.

"The current water situation on the school grounds is very challenging for me. I have to struggle to get clean water to drink after eating lunch. When I finish playing at the school field, I need water to clean up and drink. I have to go to the nearest neighboring houses in the community to beg for drinking water, but most of them will not offer me any. I can't get access to water, so I have to use the little water in the toilet or handwashing bucket to clean myself," said Zainab.

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. 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, which we know will also improve water quality.

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

We will offer hygiene and sanitation training sessions 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 teach 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 help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.

Project Updates

January, 2022: SLMC Primary School Well Rehab Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at SLMC Primary School 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.

11-year-old student Saidu Conteh explained what it was like before the well was rehabilitated. "In the morning, I used to go together with other students to fetch water. The distance is far, and there was always [a] crowd at the well waiting to fetch water. We had to wait until our time before we could have access to fetch water. My teacher had to punish us for coming to class late. We used to fetch water from the swamp to use [in] the school toilet and [for] handwashing. The water is not clean, so I was not allowed to drink it. Anyone who would drink it was going to be punished by the teacher."

Saidu uses the new pump.

"The school pump is now working," Saidu concluded. "I am very happy because I can get enough water to drink, clean myself, and use the toilet."

"Today, I am very happy because the school is receiving safe and adequate water," said Head Teacher Ibrahim Sesay. "This will help to solve the challenges we as a school had. I am grateful for this great relief from [the] water crisis at the school."

Ibrahim, the teacher on the right, celebrates with students at the new well.

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, Ward 237 Council, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the school committee. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Ibrahim and Saidu made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with 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 21 meters with water at 13 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!

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 teachers and students could attend a multi-day hygiene and sanitation training. We then dispatched our teams to the agreed-upon location to hold the meeting.

A teacher displays proper handwashing technique.

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.

"I have learned the dangers of open defecation and diseases attached to the consumptions of feces [like] typhoid, diarrhea, and worms," said Mr. Sesay. "Therefore, I am asking my fellow teachers to put all knowledge gained from this training into effective use at homes and communities. Also, to make it a point of duty to always remind pupils in their classes to be practicing good hygiene."

The training topic that spurred the most discussion was disease transmission. Students were divided into groups where they arranged posters in order to show how diseases are spread in a community. One student asked about the causes of such rampant spread of disease in their home communities. Some others responded that it was laziness or ignorance. Phillip Kanu, the senior inspectorate of schools for Sierra Leone, who attended one of the training days, reminded the students that even schools can be guilty of open defecation if their latrines are not kept clean and closed, and everyone must be diligent to ensure that diseases aren't spread in their own environments.

The students also enjoyed discussing the topic of diarrhea and its causes. Speaking of the subject exposed several misconceptions: some students stated that diarrhea is caused by eating foods that contain both palm oil and vegetable oil, others that diarrhea comes about when someone eats lots of pepper, tamarind, or mangoes.

Saidu, who we interviewed during the dedication ceremony, explained that diarrhea comes about when someone takes in contaminated foods and water by eating with an unclean hand or eating uncovered food. Mr. Sesay asked the class to give a round of applause to Saidu for explaining the most common cause of diarrhea.

"We will always wash our hands with soap and water after using the toilet," Saidu promised after the training was over. "We will wear face masks in school and stop greeting people with our hands. Our teachers have taught us to cover our nose and mouth with our elbows when we sneeze or cough and [to] observe physical distancing."

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!

December, 2021: SLMC Primary School Well Rehab Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at SLMC Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this school 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: Reaching Goals!

January, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped SLMC Primary School Community in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Khadija. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in SLMC Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help SLMC Primary School 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!

When we first visited SLMC Primary School, the school's well was not able to provide sufficient water for the students and staff, which sent students off the school campus to collect water from unprotected sources, which often made them sick.

"Before this time, the school pump was not giving out water during the dry season. As a result of that, we [had] to go all the way outside the school compound to find water to drink," said 12-year-old Khadija S.

But last year, the well was rehabilitated, providing sufficient water to meet all of the school's needs. Now, no one has to worry about becoming ill from drinking water.

"We don't go out of the school compound [anymore] just to find water, which has helped us greatly [to] not have sicknesses like cholera and diarrhea," said Khadija.

"Drinking pure and safe drinking water has tremendously helped the school as [a] whole to reach their goals," concluded Khadija.

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 SLMC Primary School 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 SLMC Primary School – 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.


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