Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 550 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 06/06/2024

Project Features

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Finding safe drinking water is impossible for the 550 community members of Malap with the village's current insufficient and contaminated water sources.

There are two protected hand-dug wells, but only one is functional because the other produces foul-smelling water. Even the functional one that we plan to rehab has seen better days due to neglect and a lack of maintenance over the years. It is facing significant issues: the well pad is seriously damaged and there is no fence or gate around it, allowing debris and stray goats, sheep, chickens, and dogs to visit looking for a drink. Our team also believes the state of disrepair makes the well a danger to children.

Currently, due to seasonality, the used well, originally dug by another organization in 1992, does not have water during eight months of the year; there is only water during the rainy season. Even when it rains, the well still does not have enough to meet the water demands of the entire community, forcing them to turn to other less-desirable sources of water around the village.

Mabinty Turay, a 46-year-old farmer and housewife, commented, "The water source can not serve all the people in the community and most times people will go wherever and whenever to get water, [with] no consideration to the quality as long as it is available."

Community members have resorted to digging open surface wells (pictured above) by hand. Although these wells produce some water, they also pose significant risks to people's health from contamination. They cannot be used at all during the rainy season, since runoff water flows directly into the well. This means the water is contaminated with fertilizers as well as and human and animal waste. It is also not uncommon to see frogs, leaves, tree branches, trash, and dirt floating in the water.

The need for a safe, sustainable water source that can serve the needs of the community is a high priority since both the main and alternate sources currently used do not provide safe water. They have water that is cloudy, has an odor, and has not been chlorinated in years. The only current reliable source available is rainwater, stored exclusively for drinking, but only available during the short rainy season.

"Every year, the elders deepen the water source, because it seems every year it reduces. The open well used to be available more in the past than now. It now takes longer to fill a bucket than it ever took. More time is now spent waiting for others to finish fetching to be allowed a turn without ever going home with the needed amount. Water is rationed by the number of people in a household," said Sallu K, a 13-year-old boy.

The reported health consequences of using these water sources range from stomachaches, diarrhea, and vomiting to typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and skin infections. The sooner the community is provided with a clean source of water, the sooner the clinic will record a reduced number of cases relating to water-borne illnesses.

Mabinty Turay shared, "Most families have lost several children over the years. I know the water is one of the reasons our children die so often. The school, the community, and even the health clinic cannot provide a safe source of water for the patients. It actually defeats the purpose of having a clinic in the village if people go there to be cured and end up coming out with something that can easily kill them."

She continued, "As a mother, [fetching water] is one of my many responsibilities that I have to perform throughout the day, early in the morning and sometimes late at night. We are used to the fact that we cook and drink water that is very bad for our health but with no other choices, we are left with drinking contaminated water."

What a gift clean, safe water from this rehabbed well will provide to mothers like Mabinty.

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

August, 2022: Malap Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"I struggled a lot to help my mother in fetching water," said 13-year-old Fatmata K.

Kids from Malap gather around the well while Fatmata fills a jug.

"This pump was not working. My mother and I could make two or three trips of water from the swamp, and we [would] get tired. The way to the swamp is far, and we must wait for the water to clean because it gets dirty after other people had fetched it. I could also get tired and only needed to rest with reading my book. When the water was not clean, I filtered it with a clean, white cotton cloth to reduce the dirt before we could start drinking it.

"It [is] good to have our pump providing enough water for us. I can fetch enough water for our house without my mother helping me. Today, I have access to safe and affordable drinking water. I can fetch water any time I need [it]. It is close to my house."

"I had numerous challenges on access to safe water," said 42-year-old teacher Abu Bakarr Bangura, on whose land the well sits.

Abu Bakarr celebrates at the well.

"It was severe during the dry season. We dug wells [in] the swamp to get water. There was [a] greater need [for] water. For that reason, the wells [would] get low. Sometimes, I would sit by the well until a little water [would come] in before I can fetch it to the house.

"Everyone also [rushed] to the swamp to fetch clean water in the morning. Drinking water from the swamp was a risk to my health. This pump is now providing clean water for me, and it will protect me from water sicknesses.

"Now, it is quite easy to fetch water, and I do not need to store water for two or three days because there is always water at the pump now where I can fetch enough at any time during the day. We will keep the water point clean [at] all times to be safe from contamination."

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. 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, Fatmata and Abu Bakarr made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Community members singing and dancing to dedicate the rehabilitated well.

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 21 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.

Bailing dirty water from the well.

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.

Re-installing the pump.

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.

Our field officers reported that the village chief and the community members participated actively in the training from start to finish, as they are so ready to no longer suffer from water-related diseases. Their willingness to put their daily lives on hold to address hygiene and sanitation within their community was incredibly encouraging.

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 notable topic was childhood vaccination, during which the facilitators explained why it's important for children to be vaccinated for common diseases like polio, measles, etc. before they reach the age of five. One woman who works as a nurse stood up and addressed the gathering, saying that vaccination rates have been on the decline and the local area has consequently seen an uptick in the cases of preventable diseases in children. The whole community agreed to schedule days for mothers to be relieved of their farm and community commitments so they can bring their children to the clinic as often as it's needed.

The water user committee members present their training certificates.

When we elected members to the water user committee, one of the community's elders emphasized the importance of diligently maintaining the well so that it may be used for generations to come. He gave the example of the community mosque, which the community pooled their resources to build and which has a group to take care of the building. With the water user committee in place to address any issues or contact our field officers if needed, hopefully this well will help the people of Malap for years yet.


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: Malap Community Well Rehabilitation Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Malap 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: "No more waterborne illnesses. . . "

November, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Malap 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!

Gbassay Sankoh, 31, recalled what life was like in the Malap Community before his community's well was rehabilitated last year.

"It was difficult during the time when this water point was not in this village. There were many waterborne illnesses like cholera, diarrhea, and dysentery that were affecting the lives [of] the people in this community," said Gbassay, a fisherman and the chairperson of the water user committee.

However, collecting water is less risky for Gbassay and the other community members in Malap Community now.

"Now, these things have changed since this water point was [rehabilitated] by you. No more waterborne illnesses compared to the previous years," Gbassay said.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Gbassay, allowing him the confidence of knowing the water he consumes will not make him ill.

Right now, there are others 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.

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 Malap 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 Malap 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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