Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 450 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/16/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Tombo Lol's 251 community members are always busy with their daily activities. Water accessibility is a great challenge, especially when the main water source is broken down.

The first alternative water source is swamp water, but it is hard to reach because of the long distance and difficult road conditions. The second alternate water source is a private well, and therefore, community access is restricted. This is why most people prefer to fetch water from the swamp. As well as being a source of drinking water, the swamp is also used as a convenient site for bathing and for laundering clothes, which further contaminates the water and contributes to water-related illnesses like cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and more.

Women and children are the most vulnerable in this water crisis as they are tasked with the responsibility to fetch water for their households. Since the breakdown of the main water source, this takes considerable time and energy. Because of this, children are normally late for school, and women are late to do their daily activities.

"Since the main water source had a breakdown, I am challenged with access to quality drinking water in this community. The alternate source closer to us is a privately owned property and therefore, my access to the water facility is extremely limited. This is the reason why I prefer to get water from the swamp for my daily consumption. It is very risky to access and use the swamp water, but I am left with no option but to use it," said Alusine Sesay, a local farmer.

"It is difficult to fetch water from the swamp because of the rough road, risk of wild animals, and the distance," said Mary S., a 13-year-old student (pictured above). "Considering all these constraints, it has been a great negative impact on my school schedule. Fetching water for a very long time from a far location has been a reason for going to school late all [these] past months."

But schedule disruption isn't Mary's only concern when fetching water. "I always consider it a risk to fetch water from the swamp alone," she said. "I have a fear of being attacked and harmed by bad boys, wild animals, or tumbling and getting injured. The energy used to fetch water from the swamp makes me become very tired [and] to read my lesson notes at night. This has negative impacts on my academic performance in class and exams."

The proposed water solution is to convert the main water source, a protected hand-dug well with a hand pump, to a borehole with a hand pump. This will help improve the water levels, so there is a sustainable, protected, clean water supply for the entire community for the whole 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

February, 2022: Tombo Lol Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"When [the well] was finally handed over to the community, [it] was a very happy day, for me and the community people," said 13-year-old Mary S. "Anybody that has ever carried water on his or her head knows the pain that shoots through the entire body."

Mary pours clean water from the well as community women celebrate.

"With the well now able to give us water all year, I will spend more time studying after school," Mary continued. "I have small goals and they involve spending more time with my sister, studying, and spending less time to do my chores."

"Access to a reliable and safe water point has a positive impact on the health of the community because it reduces the number of illnesses and unwanted hospital visits," said farmer Alusine Turay, 55.

Alusine is in the group on the right in the black shirt and khaki shorts.

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, Mary and Alusine 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 22 meters with water at 14 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.

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!

All done!

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 facilitator shows participants the result of a handwashing exercise.

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.

23-year-old food trader, Aminata Bangura, shared what she learned: "The three days' training opened my eyes on disease transmission, especially on the new threat of the entire world, coronavirus. I learned new and important ways of handwashing, face masks use, and other important methods that can save lives. Through the training, I also learned not to believe everything you hear or see on television."

For Tombo Lol, the most interactive session was when facilitators showed examples of good versus bad hygiene practices. When the facilitator showed an uncovered latrine, community members exchanged glances, knowing that most households were guilty of this. The trainers noted that uncovered latrines allow the transmission of disease when insects, chickens, and rats carry bacteria from uncovered latrines into households and even into food. After this was explained, everyone agreed to construct better, securer latrines after the training's conclusion.

Another topic that spurred a lot of discussion was dental hygiene. Participants were curious to learn about the causes of bad breath. Some claimed that people with bad breath are usually witches and wizards, and that the offensive odor from their mouths comes from witchcraft items stored in their stomachs. However, after facilitators explained that only good dental hygiene can prevent the bacteria that cause bad breath, people understood the topic better.

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!

January, 2022: Tombo Lol Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Tombo Lol 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: "No more struggle for safe and pure drinking water"

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Tombo Lol 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!

The community members in Tombo Lol used to face a daily water crisis. The waterpoint in their community was not operational, so they had to rely on water from the local swamp. But this water cost them time and health, leaving them unable to fulfill their duties and ill with water-related illnesses.

"Before, it was difficult to fetch water unless I walked long distances to the stream water. Most times, I would be late to go to school, and sometimes I did not like when my mother woke me very early in the morning to fetch water," said 13-year-old Haja B.

But last year, we rehabilitated the well in Tombo Lol, and since then, things have drastically improved for everyone. They no longer have to make tiring trips to the swamp.

"Now, [we have] no more struggle for safe and pure drinking water," said Haja. "I go to school on time now and have [time] to rest, also to fetch enough water for me to cook on time for us."

"I am happy that this water point has made everything easy for me to get enough water to do all domestic activities at the home. I do not need to walk far distances again to fetch water," concluded Haja.

Haja at the well.

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 Tombo Lol 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 Tombo Lol 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.


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