Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/23/2023

Project Features

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The 200 community members of Kathoma consistently struggle to find sufficient water to meet their daily needs. Community members have access to a couple of water sources, but both present unique challenges. Finding enough water—in particular, clean water—can feel overwhelming.

The most common water sources that community members turn to are muddy, shallow dug holes filled with pools of water in a local swampy area. People walk along a dirt path through high grass to reach the water, bend down, and scoop the water up with containers while trying not to fill their jugs with debris and dirt. At night and during the rainy season, the swamp area is restricted to prevent people from falling into one of the scoop holes and hurting themselves.

Understandably, the water from these holes is anything but clean and not safe for drinking. These are open sources contaminated by people, animals, and runoff from nearby farming activities. It is common for people to drink the water anyway and suffer from water-related illnesses such as typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and varied respiratory diseases.

There is also a protected dug well with a hand pump centrally located in the village, but it is too shallow. Due to global warming, seasonal drying has gotten worse over the past few years. It used to mean the well was dry for one month a year, but now this time period has extended to more than six months out of the year. 2019 was the last time the water was chlorinated, and it has an unpleasant taste. The flow is slow, leading to long lines that cause people to become impatient and seek alternatives.

There used to be another hand-dug well in the community, but it collapsed several years ago. For three years, community members spent money and paid workers to rehabilitate the well, but it was only ever brought back to partial working order. Water would only come for two months a year because it simply was not deep enough and eventually dried up altogether.

Aminata Bangura (in the photo above), 32, is a petty trader and runs a small food-making business, which means she needs plenty of clean water every day. She shared how this has made the success of her business challenging. "When the pump in the village went dry, I had to pay motorbike riders to fetch water for me from the nearby villages. That means I had to invest in more containers to store water, keep a rider on standby, and make sure the water is always available for drinking."

Without water, Aminata's sales decrease, and her livelihood is at risk. "The way to increase my sales is to make sure everything from spoons to plates and cups are properly clean. That can only happen if the water is also clean and safe. All of these extras reduce my profit, but it is worth it because I have developed a customer base of people that come from far to eat here."

She was honest when she said, "I don't know how [much] longer I can hold on, but I am always praying for a solution to our water problem in this community."

The scoop holes are dangerous on their, but for 13-year-old Fatmata S., seen in the photo below, there are other threats that go along with fetching water. She said, "I am always scared to go to the swamp by myself to fetch water. The main reason for being scared is the boys that follow us to the swamp. My friends and I always bathe when we go to the swamp because it will be a waste of time and effort to bathe in the village after walking a long distance to fetch water. They stand and watch us wash up."

Fatmata feels safer waiting to bathe until she gets home, even though it means she may not have any water leftover to use for other things. She shared, "Most of the time, I wait until late at night after my parents have used all the water they need. That is when I wash, just to avoid the stares from the boys. That way, I can use the bathing shelter and take as long as I want."

Besides fearing for her safety while bathing, Aminata also feels the burden of collecting water for her entire family. She used to delay waking up and doing her chores in the morning. She was sure to be late for school and be punished when she did. She said, "I started waking up earlier and making sure all my chores are completed before going to school."

And she also decided to fetch some water in the morning and make a second trip later in the day after school to collect more water for the rest of her family's needs. "Since nobody will be home, there is not much water used, so I leave the other containers and fetch [them] when I return [from school]." For the time being, it is working, but it leaves her tired and without much time or energy to do anything else.

The rehabilitation of the protected hand-dug well in the community will allow people safe access to sufficient clean water near their homes to focus their time and energy on other tasks.

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: Kathoma Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"The water well will help me to do my house tasks on time, such as cleaning, cooking, utensils (dishes), laundering, and cooking," said 13-year-old Isatu K.

Isatu collecting water from the rehabilitated well.

"[Before,] I [could] hardly complete [a] few of these tasks. At times, I [would] keep on postponing the work I am supposed to do [to] the following day. This happens because of water challenges. The sources of fetching water in this community then [were the] hand-dug water well and unprotected stream, which [are] far away from my house.

"Going to school on time was also a problem because by the time I filled the empty containers in the morning hours, I [would] already be late for school. I use to miss [the] first period of [the] school session. This can be dangerous, especially when we have tests or exams. But with this new water point, all the water challenges will be over.

Isatu pours water from a jug.

"The challenging tasks at home that I could not complete because of lack of water, I will now be able to complete. Hence, the new water point will make me prepare food on time, clean the house, [and] launder my school uniforms and clothes. The new water point will help [me] to be punctual now in school, and this will influence a positive change in my academic work."

35-year-old trader Adama Conteh, who was elected as the chairperson of the new water user committee, is most excited about the impact the new water source will have on her business.

Adama collects water.

"The water well has helped me because I used to undergo [a] lot [to] fetch water for my house and to do my business," Adama said.

"The source of fetching water then was an unprotected hand dug well in a swamp far away from [my] house. The water in the [swamp] well is not even safe and pure to use, but I [had no] choice but to draw water from it.

"At times, [a] lot of people would be at the well, except I [would] plead to fetch one container. I [would] then hurry up to go home and prepare my selling produce and went to the trade fare to sell. Most times, I would end up going late for trade fare. This has seriously affected my business and made me lose profit. I believe all this will be over with this new waterpoint.

Adama fills a jug with water.

"I give thanks and praise to the almighty God for providing us with safe and pure drinking waterpoint. With this water, I will be able to do all my work at home and then get ready to go [to] the market. [I will] not lose profit again because I will be able to deal with my customers on time. I am grateful for this new waterpoint, and we as community people will take great care of [it].

"The new waterpoint is safe and pure to drink, tastes good, and no laundering or bathing [will be] practiced [there]. The Water User Committee members have put in place bylaws [about] harmful practices or spoiling the pump machine. When [someone is] caught doing this act, the WUC will demand a fine."

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, the Ward Council, and the Ministry of Water Resources.

Adama speaks at the dedication ceremony.

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, Isatu and Adama made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Ceremony guests at the 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 19 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!

Completed well.

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. Multiple participants came from each household, which was higher participation than we had asked for!

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.

The topic of malaria prompted a community member to tell a personal story about his older brother, who contracted severe malaria, which caused not only physical but mental symptoms that frightened his loved ones. Eventually, his wife brought him to the hospital, where he had to stay for a long time, but thankfully he has now made a full recovery.

Facilitators demonstrate the proper use of a mosquito net.

When our field officers asked what could have prevented this situation, a few people said that they had heard mosquito nets could prevent malaria. Field officers also told them to eliminate any standing water and keep their environment clean to prevent the infected mosquito bites that cause malaria.

"True [is] the knowledge I learned from the hygiene and sanitation training on hand washing, proper care of the pump, and keeping the water clean," said 13-year-old Isatu, quoted at the beginning of the report. "I [will] put that into practice because I have gotten [a] safe and pure water point in the community to [help with] proper hygiene behavior."

"The training was valuable to me due to the knowledge I received on hygiene," 35-year-old trader, Aminata Bangura.

"I used to leave the food uncovered, especially after cooking [it]. Leaving food uncovered will make it easier for fowl, houseflies, or cockroaches to sit on the food we eat. This will lead to contamination, which, in turn, affects our health. Therefore, the new knowledge received on the importance of covering food and setting a dishrack will help me to prevent disease transmission."

A training facilitator demonstrates proper handwashing technique.

Aminata also helped our facilitators by answering a question posed by her neighbor, who asked whether she could wash her hands using only water. Aminata shared a personal story of how she used to go directly from the latrine to eat a meal after only rinsing her hands with water rather than using soap. She had to go to a health clinic due to chronic health issues, and the staff there told her to use soap when washing her hands. Since then, she hasn't experienced any health problems.


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!

June, 2022: Kathoma Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kathoma 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: "The water is always available..."

July, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kathoma 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!

Ibrahim, a 39-year-old farmer, recalled what life was like in Kathoma before his community's well was rehabilitated last year.

"The constraints were too much. We used to fetch water from the swamps; sometimes, the water was dirty. We were also exposed to a lot of water sickness diseases such as diarrhea, Typhoid, etc. The distance again was another problem. We used to cover about 400 meters (about .25 miles) away from our homes for us to access the swamp water," said Ibrahim.

But life is much less burdensome and risky for Ibrahim and the other community members in Kathoya now.

"This water point has brought so much relief to our community. At least we are somehow free from those diseases mentioned. The water is now clean and safe for drinking and cooking. Even the distance has now reduced," continued Ibrahim.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Ibrahim, allowing him peace of mind that the water he is drinking now is safe to consume.

"Since the construction of this water point, the water is always available, and we never experience any breakdown. The water point is always well-kept, clean, and [there is] no more waste of time and energy like before. So with this, we would like to thank you for your kindness and timely intervention," concluded Ibrahim.

Thank you for helping Ibrahim access clean water and reserve his energy for other essential things that will hopefully improve his life in the future.

Right now, there are others just like him 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.

Ibrahim outside the well.

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 Kathoma 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 Kathoma 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.