Project Status



Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 567 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features


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Community Profile

Access to clean, safe water for the 547 students and 20 teachers of DEC Services Primary School is a daily challenge that drains their time and energy.

The school has a hand-dug well that regularly experiences breakdowns. The height of the pump is too high for smaller children, forcing them to climb onto the well cover to operate the pump. Since the well cover is not tightly sealed, water runoff flows back into the well and contaminates it. During the driest months of March and April, the water level is often low, and sometimes non-existent.

Every morning when students arrive at school, they leave school grounds and cross the busy main road to visit a neighboring well in search of water. It is a dangerous endeavor, as the road is frequently traveled by both speeding motorbikes and vehicles. Students risk serious injury or worse.

"I normally fetch water in the school compound, but the water well in the compound [does] not produce enough water, and even sometimes there is a pump breakage. Presently, the water at the well is dry," said student Kenewa S., age 11, shown below carrying water.

"Imagine going to school on [an] empty stomach and then [being] asked to fetch water daily for the use of the school. It not easy," concluded Kenewa.

Some students try to avoid the busy road and walk to the extreme end of the school property to collect water from a small swamp. The swamp water is unsafe for drinking and is primarily used to irrigate crops. However, when students are thirsty and need water, they will drink from nearly any source they can find without hesitation.

"I am the headmistress of DEC Primary School Military Barracks. The water situation in my school is really affecting me," said Michaella Moore, 56, shown above. "Ever since the water at the main source gets dry, the learning progress has been greatly affected. I must send the children to fetch water from the other alternate sources. Fetching water from the alternate source is time-consuming."

Learning during the day-to-day running of the school is negatively impacted as students have difficulty concentrating when thirsty and spend too much time outside the school campus searching for water. They are frustrated by the responsibility of fetching water every morning and desire instead to put their energy into paying attention to their lessons. The school sanitation facilities have also become especially unpleasant, as any water collected must first go to drinking instead of cleaning.

The students and staff of the school need a safe and sustainable water source where they can easily access water anytime. We plan to rehabilitate the current hand-dug well into a drilled borehole well. This will prevent the unnecessary water constraints that students and teachers face and meet the school's daily water needs so their priority can be learning.

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


12/21/2022: DEC Services Primary School Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"I will never forget the difficulties we used to face when the well in the school ground [would] get frequent breakdowns. Now that our main source of fetching water is rehabilitated, it will be much easier for us. Water will be available to run the affairs of the school. Most of our students that skip classes to go in search of water will no longer do so," said 56-year-old Headmistress Mrs. Michella Moore.

Headmistress Mrs. Michella Moore pours water.

She continued: "The new water point will make the use of the sanitation facilities in the school easier for us as water will be available for that purpose. Using the toilet will be easier. Even to clean our classrooms and the toilet will not be a daunting task because we now have access to safe and clean water."

"Whenever it gets to my turn to fetch water, it will be very easy for me since the water point is in the school compound. I will no longer go over the street to fetch water. As a result, I will not miss any lessons. This will help me to pay great attention to my studies," said 12-year-old Kenewa S.

Kenewa pours water.

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 local ward councilor. 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, Mrs. Moore and Kenewa 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 17.2 meters with water at 4.6 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.

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.

Chlorination.

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.

Learning about a tippy tap for hand washing.

Attendance was encouraging throughout the training. All 14 teachers in the school were present for the hygiene and sanitation training, and although the students had just completed their third-term exams, they also attended the fourth and fifth days of the training.

"I was impressed because the knowledge the teachers had received was disseminated to the students, and that is the essence of the training," said field officer Julius Sesay.

Demonstrating proper use of a mosquito net to prevent malaria.

Malaria was a favorite topic during the training. During the lesson, a female student named Aminata raised her hand and asked permission to demonstrate the proper use of a mosquito net. She boldly stood up and used the table as a bed whilst instructing two students to hold the net properly in a downward position. She did a great job demonstrating the correct technique for the net to be effective against the mosquitos that carry malaria. The other students were impressed with her confidence and willingness to speak up during the training and clapped for her.

"The training was valuable to me because I was able to learn about hygiene, [and] how to take care of myself and the environment. From the lesson, I also learned that handwashing is important because it prevents sickness. I was able to know about this during one of the lessons on disease transmission. During that lesson, a whole family was affected due to open defecation and a lack of handwashing. Based on the knowledge I have received, I will now wash my hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating. This [will] make me [not] suffer from water-related illnesses," said Kenewa, who was quoted earlier.

Teachers learn during the training.

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!




10/12/2022: DEC Services Primary School Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at DEC Services Primary School drains students’ 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!




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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 - Centenary United Methodist Church Danville