Project Status



Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 605 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/19/2023

Project Features


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Many children in Masheka die before the age of five. Looking at where their mothers get water from every day, this fact is nearly as unsurprising as it is unfortunate.

The village had a functioning well with a pump until the 1990s, but the pump was stolen from the village during Sierra Leone's civil wars. Since then, this hand-dug well in the swamp has been their only source of water. Although the hand-dug well never dries, it is far from protected.

The reported health consequences of drinking this water are seemingly endless. Not only are Masheka's people stricken with typhoid, cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and skin rashes, but they also have a high chance of being affected by the fertilizer used by closeby farms, which has been known to cause cancer. Cancer cases are rising slowly in Sierra Leone, with most people too poor to get proper medical examinations.

While the health implications of drinking this water are the worst thing about it, it isn't the only problem. Most people in Masheka need to travel at least a half-hour to get water each trip, with some having to travel an hour.

"Imagine carrying a heavy bucket of water, a child on my back, and the other holding on to my hand," said Aminata Kamara, 24. "This is a routine I go through about ten times per day. Very exhausting. I feel the pain in my neck and back."

16-year-old Isatu is already married, with a one-year-old son. "Going to fetch water, I have to go with my child. One day, I left my son sleeping in my room and quickly went to fetch water. By the time I returned, he was crying badly. My husband was standing by the door waiting for me to return. I was greeted with a slap so hard I saw a flash. I will never leave my child unattended again, but walking that long distance is a burden on me."

"Not having a well close to the house is a big problem for me and other people in the village," Isatu continued. "I can speak for every woman and girl when I say if we don't get help, things are going to get worse for us. Our husbands do not care what happens. All they know is, 'Where is the food?' and 'Where is the water to drink and bathe?'"

A rehabilitated well won't solve all of Aminata and Isatu's problems. However, it will be right in the center of the village, saving them time and energy. The water will be protected and monitored, lessening the likelihood of water-related disease for themselves and their children. With renewed energy and hope that things can change, who knows what their futures might hold?

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


10/25/2022: Masheka Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Masheka 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.

"I am very happy because I will no longer suffer to fetch water to drink or launder my school uniform. I now can fetch enough water from this pump to bathe without no effect on my body. I can also drink good water without getting sick because the water from this pump is clean for drinking," said 16-year-old Abubakar S.

Abubakar gives his speech.

"I am very happy today for getting a water well that is proving good water to drink. My worries about drinking contaminated water from the swamp are no more. I can fetch enough water from this new water well to drink with no hesitation, and there will always be enough water at my house to use henceforth," said 50-year-old farmer Abie Sesay.

Abie celebrates clean water.

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. Local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including representatives from the Port Loko District Council and the Ministry of Water Resources. 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, Abie and Abubakar made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

The dedication ceremony was a remarkable event. Community youth played traditional Bubu processional music, calling the community to attend. People joined the celebratory parade starting at the extreme outskirts of the community, and the sweet melody continued until people made it to the community center near the well.

The two water sources in this community were vandalized by rebels during the civil war, so it has been over twenty years since there has been a safe, reliable water source in the community.

"The restoration of safe and reliable water sources in this community is like a dream come true," our field officer Philip James Allieu said.

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 15 meters with water at 11 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!

The community headman splashes water.

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.

Participants discuss disease transmission.

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.

Learning the importance of mosquito nets.

We had 142 participants take part in the training, which was a great turnout and shows an eagerness to grow and a commitment by community members to make changes.

"In a village setting, talking of personal hygiene is a new thing. One thing I learned from this training is how worms and parasites can get through to the human system and good and bad hygiene. This new knowledge will impact not only me but my community," said 42-year-old farmer Sillah Sankoh.

Sillah.

He continued: "The facilitator talked about some things like maternal health care. Our wives here refused to take their children to the hospital because of the distance to the hospital. Sometimes the hospital could not provide medicine, and the mothers always thought that if they take their children to the clinic for vaccination, it will endanger the children's lives. Therefore, they will not take them to the clinic for treatment when they are sick, and then the children die. As a father and a man of the house, I will use this method to teach my family and tell them how this training has impacted me. It can hopefully bring a change to my family."

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!




08/29/2022: Masheka Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Masheka 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

Matching Gifts
22 individual donor(s)