Project Status



Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 302 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/08/2022

Project Features


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There are two wells in Benkia village. One is an unprotected well that goes dry for half of the year, situated only 100 feet away from the saltwater Port Loko River. The other is an open well at the back of a house, not far from a latrine, shallow enough to be highly contaminated.

Village headman Malique Bangura is well-aware of the water crisis facing his 302 community members. "I speak on behalf of my people in the village: the water we are currently drinking is not fit for human consumption. Every few days, you will hear of a person having a runny stomach and vomiting. All the illnesses we get stem from the water and food we choose to eat and drink."

The consequences of the safe water shortage for this community are endless. The most major and frequent consequences are cholera, stomachaches, diarrhea, dysentery, worms, parasites, and typhoid. With multiple unexplained deaths in Benkia, the people are slowly coming away from their traditional beliefs of not going to the hospital.

"In the past, [illness caused from unsafe water] was considered witchcraft, and the entire village [would] bring in different herbs and leaves either to be boiled and drank or pounded and mixed with water," Malique explained.

"We have all come a long way, and the more exposure we get [to] the outside world, the more we embrace Western medicines," Malique continued. "People used to be afraid of going to the hospital, and for that, we paid dearly with the lives of our loved ones. Now at the sign of an illness, the patient is rushed to the clinic. It is better to die at the clinic than being dead in some dark and dirty room with no cause of death."

But contaminated water isn't the only problem for Benkia. The community will also greatly benefit from hygiene training. Being right on the river, fishing is the main source of livelihood here. But because fresh, safe water is in such short supply, they exclusively use saltwater to clean the fish they eat and sell. However, the houses closest to the wharf don't have latrines; they use the river instead. The rate of cross-contamination is very high: the families swim and catch fish in this same water.

Clean water will eliminate the need to use river water for daily needs. Hygiene and sanitation training will free Benkia's people from the illnesses that have caused them so much pain and heartache.

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


08/26/2022: Benkia Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Benkia Community 2 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.

"Before, I faced a lot of problems accessing water," said 14-year-old Saidu B.

Saidu splashes water while community members celebrate around him.

"The only water well in the community dries [out] every dry season and the water is not chlorinated," Saidu continued. "The option I could get access to is stream water, which is not pure to drink. Due to [the] contaminated water in the community, [the community and] I usually experience diarrhea."

"Today, I have access to reliable, safe, and pure water in my community. This water [is] going to contribute to my health. As the adage says, 'water na life' (water is life). I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to [everyone involved] for their good work. I am very happy because the pump is now providing enough water which I can fetch to my house. The pump is not far from my house, and I can fetch more trips of water any time easily.

"I was worried about getting safe water to drink in this village," said 28-year-old farmer Memunatu Sesay. "The water that I used to drink from various sources was not clean. There had always been difficulties accessing water when this water well got dry."

Memunatu pours water at the dedication ceremony.

"This is a great day in this village because we are getting a decent and clean water point," Memunatu continued. "The water from this pump is very clean and the water well is fenced, and this is [preventing] animals that might go inside the well to drink water and contaminate the area after drinking.

"It was difficult for me to prepare food on time after coming [home] from work on the farm. I had to fetch water from the stream to start preparing food for my family. It was not an easy task to complete because I had constraints on getting access to adequate water to prepare food. It was again not easy to fetch enough water for everyone in my family to bathe. My house would go a whole night without a single bucket of water to drink, and I would rush to the stream to fetch water very early in the morning before doing any other task.

"It is a very good moment that I am seeing clean and sufficient water running from the pump," Memunatu concluded. "My constraints on fetching water from the stream are now over."

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 Port Loko District Council and the Ministry of Water Resources. Community members beat Bondo drums and sang in their local language (Temne), praising God for giving them access to water in their community.

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, Memunatu and Saidu made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with more 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 six 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.

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.

53-year-old Swaibu Bangura came away from the training with new knowledge. "I am very confident that this training was so much important to me and, I believe, also to my fellow community members, especially women who are also mothers," Swaibu said.

Swaibu at the training.

"The knowledge from this training is essential to our daily lives, especially in caring for ourselves, [our] environment, [and the] food and water that we use. Today I have learned that we should not do any laundry close to our drinking sources because we will end up drinking the [soap in our] water because that very soapy water will be drained into the pump. I have also learned that we get sicknesses like typhoid, diarrhea, worms, or even skin infection as a result of contaminated food and water.

"This training has also helped me understand the value of using latrines and dishracks in protecting ourselves since we have domestic animals like fowl, dogs, ducks, and even insects that transmit diseases to us. I strongly believe that if we all try to follow this advice, we will live better lives in this community."

Conclusion

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!




06/21/2022: Benkia Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Benkia 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

Borehole and Hand Pump

Girls and women walk long distances for water when safe water is very often right under their feet! Underground rivers, called aquifers, often contain a constant supply of safe water – but you have to get to it. No matter what machine or piece of equipment is used, all drilling is aiming for a borehole that reaches into an aquifer. If the aquifer has water - and after the well is developed - we are able to pull water to the surface utilizing a hand-pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around 5 gallons of water a minute through a hand-pump.


Contributors

Project Sponsor - Park Valley Church
3 individual donor(s)