Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 376 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/19/2024

Project Features

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The hardest time of year for the people of Benkia is from December to April of every year when the wells dry up. The water crisis sends the 374 people of this village to the only available source that is never dry: water from the swamp, which is filled with algae, tadpoles, fish, fertilizer from nearby gardens, and soil runoff.

Just when the hot African sun is at its peak, when animals, trees, and people are thirsting for water, there is none.

Memunatu, a 14-year-old girl (pictured below), said her least favorite part about the lack of water is doing the laundry for her family.

"The hardest part is carrying the heavy and soaked container of clothes climbing the hill," she explained. "If the water well is working all year, I will not have to go down to the swamp, but since it is not working, I have to do laundry down there."

With the shortage of water, people take fewer baths, do laundry less frequently, and drink less, causing an overall drop in the hygiene and sanitation of the entire community. None of the latrines have soap, water, ashes, or handwashing stations. The poorly constructed latrines never last long.

However, even when the community's well is functioning, its quality is questionable at best. The environment of the hand-dug well is unsanitary: dogs, goats, and other animals roam freely inside the well pad. The walls and fence are damaged. The hand pump has also seen better days.

The contamination of both sources leads to such illnesses as typhoid, diarrhea, vomiting, dysentery, and malaria, along with a legion of worms and parasites.

"The children play with water throughout the day, with no regard of how difficult it is to fetch," said Dauda Kamara, a 60-year-old retired farmer. "I can no longer go down the steep hill (to the swamp). [It] is impossible to do."

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

July, 2022: Benkia Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"One of my tasks is to fetch water for my parents every day," said 14-year-old Aruna.

Aruna pours out a cup of water while community members celebrate.

"In the morning, I would rush to the stream to fetch water [before] the pump well was locked because of [the] water shortage. Going to the stream to fetch water was not an easy task because the distance is far and the way is bushy. When the water from the stream was dirty, I could not fetch drinking water and I would return to the house to wait until it is clean before I could go to fetch water.

"I used to be worried about when I would finish fetching water from the stream because I knew it was not easy. I am happy now because the pump well is working well, and I am getting enough water from it. There will be enough water to drink, cook and wash."

Adults were just as excited for the new water point.

Ramatu collects water from rehabilitated well.

35-year-old trader, Ramatu Kamara, said: "Today, I am overly excited to see the pump providing clean water [during] this season of the year. It was never like this before. It used to get dry during the dry season, but I thank God it has enough water coming out at this moment.

"I used to fetch water from the stream when the pump well dried. The stream could not provide enough water that would serve everyone in this village. It was exceedingly difficult in the morning to fetch water from the stream because people rushed to get clean water. The stream water well is not covered and therefore, any animal or dirt could get access to it and contaminate the water.

"I drank the water because it was the only source of water to drink when the pump was dried. I know that drinking impure water will cause me to fall sick, but I had no choice. I am incredibly happy because I will not drink [from] the stream and I know that I am safe from getting sick from impure water. The pump is just a few steps away [from] my house so I can just spend a few [minutes] to fetch water from the pump. I will have enough time to trade and complete other duties.

"I am incredibly happy today because I now have access to enough water to do everything that I need water to complete. I can also get clean water to drink from this pump well."

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 Ward Council, and the Port Loko District Council.

Osman Fofanah from the Ministry of Water Resources bangs a drum while community members celebrate.

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, Aruna and Ramatu 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 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 14 meters with water at 6 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.

Bailing underway.

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 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 pump and conducted a water quality test. The test results showed that this was 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 three-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, 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.

One of the most interesting topics was dental hygiene, during which one of the community's elders, Pa Alimamy Kamara, stood and spoke to his peers, entreating them to listen to the advice of the training facilitators and brush their teeth every day. He said that if he'd received this knowledge in his younger years, perhaps he wouldn't have red and brown teeth and painful gums.

A community member demonstrates proper tooth brushing technique.

When we introduced the topic of malaria and mosquito nets, the community members all looked guilty. One woman explained that everyone in the village was guilty of misusing their mosquito nets by covering gardens and sheltering their domestic animals underneath them rather than sleeping within them as is intended. However, no one in attendance had heard that malaria is caused by an infected mosquito bite. The woman encouraged her fellows to keep their environments free from stagnant water and to use mosquito nets for their intended purpose of preventing malaria in the future.

"I can now identify the bad practices we were doing ignorantly," said 38-year-old Mabinty Kanu.

Mabinty Kanu.

"I have decided to make an improvement on these areas for a healthy living. I remember when I was a little girl, back in the days living in this remote village setting. I was always carried to a native doctor whenever I complained about my health. The only cure we knew was traditional herbs instead of going to the hospital.

"But my full participation in this training has really helped me understand that I should always practice good hygiene to stay well and strong and, when I or the children are sick, it is the hospital we should use. Therefore, I am pleading with every one of us to take this message home and make sure to share it so that we all can help educate the [others] on all that we have learned."


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2022: Benkia Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Benkia 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 school 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: Enough Water for Days!

August, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Benkia 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!

Ramatu recalled what life was like in Benkia before her community's well was rehabilitated last year.

"It was not easy for me to fetch water since the well in our community was faulty—the well experienced break downs. As a result, fetching water from it was difficult [and] not possible for us. I went to the swamp to fetch water. Fetching water from the swamp was a challenge as the distance to the water source was too far. This alone discouraged me from doing a lot of water trips to the swamp. Even fetching water for drinking was a problem. That is why we were praying for the successful completion of this project so that all our challenges will be a thing of the past," said Ramatu.

But life is much more hopeful and less stressful for Ramatu and the other community members in Benkia now.

"Ever since the project was completed, we all have a sigh of relief, especially in the area of fetching water for our domestic use. I'm now able to fetch enough water that can even serve us for days, mostly because the well is close to my house. I will now use the water to do a lot of things at home on time. This was not possible in times past due to the water constraints I used to face," Ramatu said.

Having ready access to water from the rehabilitated well has made a difference for Ramatu, allowing her time to complete her daily tasks.

"This water point has helped me to cook on time. This was one of the areas that was affected,d but the completion of this water point makes this constraint to be over. Similarly, the water point has helped me to launder my dirty clothes with ease as I will no longer allow my dirty clothes to pile up since water is always available to launder my clothes at all times. Finally, the water point has contributed greatly to my health. This is because I am now using clean water to drink. No more using the swamp water source to drink; therefore, my health will no longer be affected as before. For that reason, I want to say thank you for this great help," concluded Ramatu.

Thank you for helping Ramatu access clean water and accomplish things more efficiently, allowing her to feel successful and less stressed.

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.

Ramatu near 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 Benkia 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 Benkia 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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