Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/16/2024

Project Features

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Gbaneh Lol Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) serves ten surrounding communities (approximately 150 people), primarily with the birthing of community children, though it also encounters other acute health issues. The communities benefit greatly from the operation of the clinic, which is a literal lifesaver during the night hours.

When the clinic's well worked, nurses were able to fetch water for their needs at any time of day. However, with the local water table having been lowered due to deforestation and climate change, their well regularly dries out. This lack of water endangers the lives of the clinic's patients: adult, newborn, and unborn.

"The lack of water supply for the clinic complicates child delivery, especially when it is an emergency case," said Zainab Taylor (48), the clinic's head nurse. "As a nurse, water is just as important as the medications we use. Lacking either one can and does create a crisis that might cost someone's life."

For now, since the center's well is dry, nurses have asked a nearby community member for access to his well. However, this alternate well is unprotected and unmonitored, which means the patients at the clinic are now drinking contaminated water when they're already in a delicate state.

"The lack of adequate water also affects the sanitation and hygiene part of our treatment," Zainab said. "[The] latrines are not cleaned on a daily basis, which increases the chances of contracting dangerous diseases."

The community shares a close relationship with the nurses of the clinic. Many newborns within the community have been named after the nurses who helped bring them into the world, an honor that is not bestowed on just anybody. Nurses are also invited to naming ceremonies, birthdays, weddings, and all other functions in the community.

However, the lack of continuous water means patients are taken to other centers where the availability of water is not an issue. Sometimes, this delay can be deadly.

The population of the community is only growing, which will put added strain on the clinic and its water supply. This means the time to install a new water project to meet the increasing demand and prevent more lives lost is now.

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

March, 2022: Gbaneh Lol Health Center Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at Gbaneh Lol Health Center 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.

Zainab Taylor, the head nurse at the clinic, whom we spoke to when we first visited the community, reminded us of the reasons why a reliable source of clean water was necessary for the center.

"Access to safe and sufficient water to deliver health service was difficult," Zainab said. "More time was required to fetch water from other sources in the community to complete [a] health service. Proper hygiene practices at this PHU were another difficult task to do. Insufficient water limited the proper use of toilet facilities and the cleaning of those facilities. This would have led to contracting diseases if [you] would not have intervened to end the water shortage."

Zainab pours water as the community celebrates behind her.

But now, with the newly rehabilitated well, Zainab's hopes are high.

"There is now enough water to do child delivering at any time of the day," she said. "Patients will now get enough water [to] drink and clean their babies during health observation. Thank God now I have access to safe and enough water. I can now provide prompt service to patients, especially [during] child delivering."

Adama K., whose mother is a nurse at the facility, lives in the staff quarters just outside the center. This well will allow for easier treatment, but it will also change Adama's day-to-day life.


Adama is on the left in the blue patterned shirt.

"This well will help to provide enough water for me, at a short distance, to complete my domestic activities and have enough time to complete my schoolwork at home and in school," said 17-year-old Adama K. "This will help me to perform well on school examinations and get a good education. I will not drink contaminated water from those water wells in the community. My health is safe."

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. The Gbaneh Lol Health Center nurses and workers hosted the ceremony, expressing their delight for safe and adequate water.

The ceremony was attended by several local dignitaries from the Port Loko District Council, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the Gbaneh Lol community chief. Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Zainab and Adama 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 18 meters with water at ten 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!


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.

After this preparatory period, we scheduled a time when the nurses 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.

"I appreciate the training so much," said Zainab. "The knowledge I have learned or observed from the training is important to me, especially environmental hygiene and personal hygiene. I hope this new knowledge refreshes my memory that I should put these methods into practice always so that it will help me to prevent myself, my co-workers, and my patient from sickness. I am sure this will create a good impact on me."

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!

February, 2022: Gbaneh Lol Health Center Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage Gbaneh Lol Health Center 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 health center 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: Safer health services and births!

May, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped the Gbaneh Lol Health Center in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Zainab. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gbaneh Lol Health Center 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!

Zainab Taylor, a nurse whom we spoke to when we first visited the Gbaneh Lol Health Center last year before its well was rehabilitated, recalled what life was like back then.

"Before this project was completed, the pump machine would frequently break down. Before, more time was required to fetch water from the water sources in the community. I [had to] fetch water from contaminated water sources that caused health effects on me, such as stomach pain," said Zainab.

She continued, "The access to safe [water] and enough [of it was] difficult, [making it hard] to do domestic activities and to deliver health services at [the] health facility."

But water collection from the well is much safer and faster for Zainab and the other community members who live near Gbaneh Lol Health Center now.

"This water point has impacted my life greatly. The water point has enough water to do domestic activities on time. Also, we are happy about the monitoring you are doing on the sustainability of the water point," said Zainab.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Zainab, allowing her plenty of water to meet her personal needs and better take care of her nursing responsibilities at the health center.

"This water point has helped us to do child delivering on time effectively [with] safety and [with] enough water. Thanks to you for the water point," Zainab concluded.

Thank you for helping Zainab quickly access clean and safe water each day. It allows her the time and resources to provide better patient care.

Right now, there are others just like her in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can't wait to introduce you to the next person you'll help.

Nurse Taylor outside the rehabilitated 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 Gbaneh Lol Health Center 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 Gbaneh Lol Health Center – 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.


In Memory of Jeff OConnell
Montclair State's National Society of Collegiate Scholars Water Campaign
31 individual donor(s)