February, 2022: #4 Abidjan Street Well Rehabilitation Complete!
We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at #4 Abidjan Street 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 community celebrating clean water.
"This water well is a good help to me because I suffered to fetch pure water. Most of the water sources in this community are not good for drinking. Some of them are not sustainable. I used to go far to fetch drinking water. Water from this water well used to sometimes get filthy and low in quantity. Now, I can get access to pure and adequate water from this well. It is safe to drink and enough to do all domestic activities," said Tenneh S., 16.
Tenneh pumping clean water!
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 Ministry of Water Resources and the Port Loko District Council. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Tenneh and Jarai made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.
Jarai gives her speech.
"Today, it is good that this well is now providing safe and enough water to always drink. Before, this well used to give out filthy water. Life was not good to live, especially without enough pure water to drink. I used to spend more time to go in search of drinking water because I did not want my family to drink contaminated water that would cause them sickness. Now it is easy to fetch water at the newly completed well for drinking and other daily activities," said Jarai Buh, a 3o-year-old trader.
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 23 meters with water at 15 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!
Tenneh commented, "Every morning, I must fetch water to bathe and for other domestic activities before going to school. This was never easy, and it delayed my time for going to school. Sometimes, I would return to the house without getting the chance to fetch water. At that moment, I would go to school without taking [a] bath. I felt uncomfortable in class until I returned to the house and [would] go in search of water to bathe before I could feel better. This new well will provide enough water for me and [take] less time to bathe and do other domestic works."
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.
Learning about disease transmission routes.
"This training is valuable to me because I have gained more knowledge on how to prevent myself from [contracting the] COVID-19 virus. Before, I was careless on preventing [it for] myself, especially when it comes to the wearing of face masks and frequent hand washing. But the new knowledge has impacted my life, and I now have the awareness on the virus and how to prevent myself from contracting it," said Fatmata Bangura, 27.
One of the memorable topics during the hygiene training was the session on disease transmission. The community members found it remarkably interesting. As soon as the facilitator presented the poster of a child defecating behind a house, and a fowl stepping in the feces, then stepping in uncovered food sitting on the ground, participants began talking amongst themselves, admitting they had been allowing this unhealthy practice. They clapped as the facilitator continued to present the information. A participant expressed her gratitude for the training and the new knowledge that will help change the community's health.
Jarai, the newly elected treasurer of the water committee, shared her opinion on the training. "I believe this training will not help me alone, but the community at large on the health and reduction on the death rate, mostly of children in the community. But now, with this new knowledge and ideas I have gained from this training, I strongly believe that I can be able to prevent myself from most of these deadly diseases. I will serve as an agent of change and practice all the new ideas."
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!