Fetching water has become a complex, dangerous task for the 400 people who live in Gbaneh Bana. Community members, especially children and the elderly, who are most susceptible because of weaker immune systems, suffer from common water-related illnesses like typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery from drinking water collected at unprotected contaminated water sources.
Most people in the community currently rely on a nearby stream for their daily water needs since the community well requires rehabilitation. The stream is open to animals and pollutants from farming and people, so it is in no way safe to drink. To access the stream also requires traversing a steep pathway, as shown in the photo above. It is a struggle on the way down and on the way back up, limiting the number of people who can fetch water.
The alternative is an open hand-dug well located next to the mosque across the highway. The well is open to contamination, and near-miss accidents while crossing the road happen daily, making fetching water from this source hazardous.
Gbassay B., age 17, shared, "Fetching water from the stream requires the effort of all members of the family. Very early in the morning, I am up ready for the grueling exercise of trying to get water from the stream. I sometimes wake and wait for others to go along with me because it is not encouraged for just one person to venture there any time of the day."
Sadly, although Gbassay is only 17, she already feels the pain of sore muscles and joints from her daily water tasks. "Not a day goes by when I don't complain about body aches and pains from trying to climb the hill after fetching water. I prefer going to the stream than walking across the road to fetch at the open well for two reasons: one being it is safer at the stream, and the second [is that] the water from the stream is available all year round."
Isatu Kamara, a 22-year-old petty trader, said, "I can never get the amount of water I need for the entire day."
Isatu described the arduous task of collecting and carrying water due to the very steep hill requiring her and other family members to share the job. "Not many people can walk up and down the hill without falling down. Most of the time, I will fetch the water and bring it to the hill while another member of my family takes it to the house. Fetching water is something that has to be properly planned and coordinated to make sure there are more people to complete the task. To reduce the number of trips we make to the stream, we sat together as a family and reduced the wastage of water by recycling the water for other uses."
The people of Gbaneh Bana need their well (in the photo above) rehabilitated, so they do not have to expend as much time and energy simply collecting water. With the well repaired and functioning again, everyone will have access to clean, safe water.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
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.