Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 230 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/05/2024

Project Features

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The 230 community members in Sumbaya primarily rely on a hand-dug well for their daily water, but the well has significant issues. It was constructed in 1986, but was last rehabilitated nearly thirty years ago and requires serious attention to make it functional enough to serve the community effectively once again.

The well has no proper drainage system and is surrounded by grass, dirt, and pools of stagnant water. The cement walls surrounding the well are crumbling, and the gate is broken, giving animals open access to defecate nearby. The pump head has unscrewed nuts and bolts, and water quality tests are not regularly conducted.

It is in need of many repairs, but it is also too shallow and suffering from seasonal low water levels that worsen each year. These deficiencies and the high water demand from the large population leave people frustrated and tired.

When the water level is low, or people lose patience from waiting in long queues, they resort to the local swamp. But the swamp water smells and has a reddish color. It is full of contaminants from farming runoff and soap residue from bathing and laundry done nearby. Understandably, the water is contaminated and not safe for drinking.

Isata S., 16, said, "The present water constraint is a burden on me because I and my brothers have the responsibility to fetch water at home every day. Since the main well is broken down, it is extremely hard nowadays to get access to pure drinking water."

She continued to share how she has resorted to collecting water from the swamp and its impact on her. "I must walk down [to] the swamp water source to fetch water for domestic activities. The energy required to fetch water from the swamp makes me very tired and causes me to have less time to read my lesson notes at night. It affects my academic performance in class and exams."

The lack of access to clean water for community members leads to many issues in their daily lives. The primary source of income for community members is farming, but without water, production shrinks. Daily household chores and proper hygiene practices have become almost impossible. Meals are delayed, and children go to school with dirty uniforms and without bathing.

We will rehabilitate the well by converting it into a drilled borehole. Community members need access to safe, reliable water to enable them to attend to other critical daily tasks.

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

April, 2022: Sumbuya Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Sumbuya Community in Sierra Leone is now providing clean water to neighboring community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.

"Prior to the construction of the new water point, I used to walk far distances to fetch water for domestic purposes," said 16-year-old Isata. "But having this new water point will help reduce the burden I face in fetching water and [allow me to] have enough time to rest. I have enough time now to read my lesson notes during the evening hours."

Now that she can fetch water close to home, Isata said she is excited that she will no longer have to go into the swamp. "I have no fear that I will be attacked by wild animals anymore," she explained.

Isata drinks water in the black shirt in the right foreground.

"Also, it was difficult for me to practice proper hygiene behavior because there was no safe and pure water in the community," Isata continued. "The water I fetched was used for cooking and drinking. Now that we have safe and pure water, I will practice better hygiene behavior."

Ward councilor Hassan Sillah, 50, also expressed his joy for the new water point. "Before I use to drink from [an] unprotected water source. But now, my health would not be under attack again. As a result, this will help me to be healthy and [to] run the affairs of my people."

Hassan, in the all-white outfit, dances with other community members.

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including representatives from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Port Loko District Council, and the Ward Council.

Osman Fofanah from the Ministry of Water Resources celebrates with community women.

Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project and reminding everyone to take good care of it. Then, Hassan and Isata made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing. Community members sang different songs in their local language such as Tell am Tenki, which means "praise be to the almighty God."

Clean Water Restored

The drill team arrived the day before beginning work. They set up camp and unpacked all their tools and supplies to prepare for drilling the next day. The community provided space for the team to store their belongings and 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 drilling tool. 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 20 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 excellent 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.

Technicians conduct a yield test.

As the project neared completion, we built a new 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 be uncomfortable and 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 called and visited the local water user committee to 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 Councilor Sillah's house to hold the meeting under a mango tree. During each day of training, we had participants from every household within the community, demonstrating their commitment to better health moving forward.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, disease transmission and prevention, COVID-19, 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.

The most amusing topic for the people of Sumbuya was dental hygiene, during which people teased each other for their lack of tooth-brushing. Some participants admitted ignorance about harming their teeth with tobacco or hard-bristled toothbrushes. By demonstrating proper toothbrushing with the teaching aid, participants' hygiene techniques were critiqued and bettered by their peers.

One topic that provoked a great deal of discussion was childhood nutrition, which is demonstrated using a three-legged stool teaching tool (with the stool representing health and the three legs demonstrating different macronutrients).

Participants asked so many questions about different foods that have been forbidden for children to eat: eggs, ripe bananas, oranges, chicken, and fish. According to some traditional beliefs, these foods can lead to many different undesirable outcomes like malaria, worm infestations, and even witchcraft. At the end of the session, everyone concluded to forget those few traditional practices and focus on practicing the advice from the training.


"I have been able to learn the proper way of brushing my teeth," said 18-year-old student Kallah S. "I am also aware that eating contaminated food and water can cause so many diseases like typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea. I know this new knowledge will help improve my life and I will make sure that I observed all the necessary procedures in keeping myself safe."

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.

"I will encourage the water users committee members to make sure the well is always clean," Councilor Sillah said. "They must monitor its usage for it not to get spoiled. I will ensure that we save money to repair the water well if there is a breakdown."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

March, 2022: Sumbuya Community Well Rehab Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Sumbuya Community 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: "This water point has impacted our lives so much!"

July, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Sumbuya 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!

Isata S., 16, recalled what life was like in Sumbuya Community before her community's well was rehabilitated last year.

"We usually [had] to get up early in the morning because we had to go all the way to the swamps to fetch water and do some of our domestic work before going to school. Even though we got up early, we [would still] go to school late because of the distance from our house to the swamps," Isata shared.

But life is much simpler for Isata and the other community members in Sumbuya Community now.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to have a well with a hand pump in our community. [It] has stopped the constraints of the unavailability of water. This water point has impacted our lives so much because we're no longer going to the swamps to fetch water. We go to school on time, [and there's] no more waterborne sicknesses like cholera or diarrhea," she continued.

Having ready access to water from the rehabilitated well has made a difference for Isata, allowing her to avoid water-related illnesses.

"This opportunity was our prayer, and [we] considered that God has answered our prayers. [I planned] that one day we'll have the opportunity of having a hand pump in our community," she concluded.

Thank you for helping Isata access clean water and giving her back the time she used to travel to get dirty water. That time can now be used to help build a brighter future for herself.

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.

Isata at the waterpoint.

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 Sumbuya 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 Sumbuya 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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