Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 600 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/27/2023

Project Features

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Raka village comprises houses lined along both sides of the Port Loko Highway, two miles away from Borope Village. There is a palm tree garden at the village entrance, with large trees casting cool shadows. They provide shelter to different species of monkeys, deer, porcupines, and other bush animals. Trees have been cut down along the same road to make room for charcoal burning and wood to be used for home building.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the majority of people in the village. The community is known for making fufu, a cassava by-product, eaten with a sauce sold at the open market every Thursday.

The current water point in use, a hand-dug well, needs to be converted to a borehole. It does not provide enough water for the community and regularly dries up for at least three months out of the year. Daily, the children leave empty containers lined up at the water point until it is time for the well to open. Containers are left unattended for hours before water is fetched, and sometimes there is no water to be taken home, and they must use water from the swamp.

When community members resort to using the water from the swamp, sand and mud are cleared to make way for a scoop hole. The most difficult time of year for accessing safe and clean water in the community is during the dry season when the hand-dug well has dried up, and the alternate water source of swamp water is milky white and in low supply.

"We have been through some rough times this dry season. Since our main well is dry, I travel more than 4 miles round trip to get a bucket of water from a more reliable source. I am one of the fortunate people that gets the luxury of fetching water from another village. This is one of the happiest moments for everyone in the community when we got the word that help is on the way," said Ibrahim Sesay, farmer.

The conversion to a borehole well is going to deepen the water well and improve the water quality. This will reduce the number of people using contaminated water and make the current water point sustainable throughout the entire year.

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: Raka Village Well Rehab Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at Raka 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.

16-year-old Mariatu K. explained how the newly rehabilitated well will help her in achieving her lifelong dream. "This water well has reduced my trips to the swamp, which means I now have more time to study, which will eventually translate to better grades in school. I really want to surprise my parents by being the first in the family to make it all the way to college. That has always been my dream."

Mariatu dumps water over her head at the well celebration.

"I now have options of where to fetch water and there are no more restrictions on the amount of containers I am allowed to fetch," Mariatu continued. "Accessing water in the community is no longer a problem, and it leaves more time to study."

"Now that this water well is available in the village, we will spend less time fetching water and more time making sure there is food on the table," said a different Mariatu, a 40-year-old farmer and trader. "The access to [a] safe and reliable water source is going to translate to more time to spend with my family, [and] more time making my homemade cakes and processing fufu (cassava starch) and palm oil."

Mariatu (the elder) at the well.

"As a parent, any success of my children is a reward for me," Mariatu continued. "I plan on making sure that there is always going to be food on the table and at the same time reduce the number of times my children, both boys and girls, go to the swamp."

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, the Ministry of Water Resources, and community headmen from Raka and several neighboring communities. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, both Mariatus 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 13.71 meters with water at 11.49 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 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.

Pump installation.

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.

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.

Not only was attendance in Raka better than we expected, but each day when our facilitators arrived for training, we saw evidence of the community members listening to the training in latrines being built and tippy-taps being constructed.

Handwashing with a tippy-tap.

"Today, I have learned important lessons on how to take good care of myself, my family, and my community," said 48-year-old mother and farmer, Hawanatu Kamara. "Through this training, I have come to know the dangers of open defecation and the essence of eating good food and fruits that are of great value to us especially our children who needs them to grow healthy and strong."

The topic that incited the most conversation and debate was when we displayed examples of good and bad hygiene. Community members identified households that were practicing bad behaviors like open defecation and walking barefoot (which poses the danger of contracting parasites like hookworm). At the conclusion of this topic, everyone agreed to work together to eliminate bad hygiene behaviors from their community.

Another particularly enlightening topic was a balanced diet, which sparked some debate. A few community members hold traditional beliefs that children shouldn't eat certain foods (like mangoes, eggs, fish, and meat) for fear of infecting them with witchcraft. But the facilitators emphasized that children should be eating more than just rice, which was the primary diet fed to children in Raka. In the end, one villager concluded that it's important not just that their children's bellies be full, but that they are full of nutritional foods that will make their bodies strong.

Facilitators use a three-legged stool to display the balanced diet topic.

Village headman Komrabai Sesay, at whose home the training was held, shared what struck him most from the training. "Many a time, I have seen people hanging their face masks under their chins, and I have been doing the same, since we have been doing the mask-wearing for protocol's sake and not for the right purpose, which is to protect us from the Covid-19 virus. But through this training, I have learned about the proper way of mask-wearing, which is to be fitted in covering both the nose and mouth."

"I know if we all start following the advice from this training and move from our past behavior, we will become a community with healthy and strong people with fewer infant deaths and hospital visits," Hawanatu concluded.

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: Raka Village Well Rehab Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Raka Village 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: "I am happy"

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Raka 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 the well in Raka Community was rehabilitated last year, people spent a significant amount of time finding and collecting water, leaving them exhausted.

"The old water source was an open well. Before, we used to fetch water with [a] rope and a rubber container. During the dry season, the well went dry [and] we [had to] go the swamp to fetch water. It was a difficult task to fetch water from the swamp," said 17-year-old Isatu M.

But once we rehabilitated their well, sufficient water became easily accessible for everyone.

"I am happy because [the water point] is well protected, easy [to] get water [from], [and] also pure to drink," said Isatu.

"The water point has helped me to fetch water on time and to go to school on time. It has helped [me] to launder uniforms and clothes two times a week. It is chlorinated, which makes it pure to drink, and it has reduced the chances to get water sickness," concluded Isatu.

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 Raka 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 Raka 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.


5 individual donor(s)