Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 137 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/18/2024

Project Features

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In the predominantly Muslim community of Mahera, worshippers need water for their prayers five times each day, and yet finding that water is always a challenge. For the 137 people who live here, there is no convenient place or time to fetch water. Almost every time they go to the community's only functioning well (often passing several broken-down waterpoints on the way), they encounter long lines full of impatient people.

13-year-old Kadiatu K. (in the below photo carrying water) told our field officers that weekdays are her least favorite days, because that's when her parents tell her to fetch water. "Luckily, some of my schoolmates live next door to my house, and I always call them to walk with me to fetch water."

Kadiatu continued: "Our community is safe, but my parents still recommend that I travel with a small group on our way to the water well. It is not far, but the long lines and bullying from the older girls and boys delay me [in] getting water. The advantage to going as a crowd is if someone older wants to take advantage of us, all of my friends will resist and cause as much noise as possible until an elder intervenes."

Things weren't always so contentious, but the community's formerly reliable well has been broken since September 2021, and efforts to rehabilitate it have been unsuccessful.

Without water, Kadiatu's mother wouldn't be able to make her lunch until several hours after she gets home from school each day, given that making food needs water. "Early in the morning and in the afternoon, I am [at the well] with my containers trying to make sure sufficient water is at the home to be used for preparing food," Kadiatu said. "My mother told me if I want to have food immediately after school, then it is my responsibility to make sure there is water at the home at all times."

And the lack of water doesn't just make things difficult for Mahera's schoolgoing kids.

"Water is the most important resource that is used by every living thing throughout the day," said 50-year-old trader N'mah Jollah (in the below photo).

"As a woman and a housewife, my days are spent knee-deep in the challenges of looking for water to fulfill our household's daily requirements. [When] the high demand for water increases, so does the need for functional water points in the community."

"The well that used to serve the large portion of the community is the well at the market," N'mah explained. "When it was functional, people [would] travel from different parts of the community to fetch water, wash their potato leaves, cassava leaves, and other supplies that need cleaning before use. As a petty trader, I need water throughout the day, and going far from home to fetch water reduces my time spent preparing my foodstuffs."

Because of the lack of water and reduced morale amongst Mahera's people, proper hygiene and sanitation practices are not being observed. This, coupled with the lack of a protected water source, leads to high rates of hospitalizations due to cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.

With another source of water available, the water-queuing time will reduce. With less time wasted, people will be able to focus on more developmental activities than quarreling with neighbors, and kids will be able to spend their hours outside of school playing and studying.

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

January, 2023: Mahera Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Mahera 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 happy for fetching water from this water well. I was always worried about fetching water far away from my house. I used to follow my colleagues to go in search of water from other communities. It was hard for me to carry the heavy bucket of water on my head from a far distance to my house. I felt pain in my whole body and could not be able to study at home," said 13-year-old Kadiatu K.

Kadiatu plays with clean water.

"Now, this water well is good to fetch water. I am happy because I can now easily fetch enough water from this well. I [won't] go far away in search of water [for] my house. I do not need to rush in the morning to fetch water because this water well is near to my house," Kadiatu concluded.

"My children and I used to fetch water until late in the evening because of the overcrowding at the water well. Sometimes, I could not fetch the quantity of water that I needed because of the delay and tussle at the well," said 50-year-old trader N'mah Jalloh.

She continued: "Today, I am extremely excited because the closest water well to my house is now providing clean water. It is now quite easy for me to fetch water at any time of the day to complete all the domestic duties on time before going out to trade."

N'mah Jollah celebrating clean water.

She concluded, "I will not hesitate to drink water from this well because you have chlorinated it, and the water is exceptionally clean with no taste or odor. I am grateful to you for providing us with clean water to drink in the Mahera community. We had suffered for a very long time, but today, I can say that my suffering for water is no more."

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 and the Port Loko District Council. 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, Kadiatu and N'mah made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Happy for clean water!

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 12 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.

We also invited a nurse from the local clinic to help explain some topics and spread awareness about Sierra Leone's free vaccinations for children under five. Nurse Barrie was instrumental in reinforcing each lesson.

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.

Nurse Barrie demonstrates proper handwashing.

The session on malaria that Nurse Barrie facilitated was eye-opening for participants. She explained the dangers of malaria and that if preventive measures are not practiced, or an infected person does not go to the nearest health facility to get treatment, they could die.

A participant recounted a time when her son was very ill with malaria, and people advised her to take him to the hospital for treatment. She did, and thankfully he made a full recovery. She challenged the group to remember that local herbalists do not have access to the correct testing equipment or the medication to treat malaria appropriately, so they should seek help at the local health clinic instead.

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.

Discussing disease transmission.

"I had no idea about certain sicknesses that were affecting my children and me in this community. On the first day of this training, I learned more new knowledge about hygiene and sanitation, especially the importance of proper handwashing. Before, I washed my hands without using soap, but now, I have learned from you that in any handwashing, there must be soap and clean water to complete the process. Without the use of soap, my hands will never be clean," said N'mah, who was quoted earlier.

The appointed Water User Committee members hold their training certificates.


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!

November, 2022: Mahera Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mahera 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!


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