Project Status



Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features


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The Petifu Junction Health Post serves a large community of 500, but the health post's current dug well is in a weakened state. Because of the water shortage, the healthcare services offered are severely limited.

The center is marked for expansion with the help of another organization, but without water, the buildings will sit empty, and new vital health services like surgeries will not be able to happen.

Overuse of the current well (shown below) causes frequent pump breakdowns and slows the discharge rate causing long lines and delays. When seasonal dryness occurs, the issue is further compounded. The well is in need of rehabilitation and, without repairs, will continue to only provide menial amounts of water and leave people needlessly suffering.

40-year-old midwife Christiana Jillo Will (shown below) finds delivering babies, especially during nighttime emergencies, challenging without sufficient water.

"There is a need for water to ensure proper hygiene and sanitation at the health center," said Christiana. "It is not easy to provide good health service without the use of clean and adequate water.

"The water well at this health center is not strong [enough] to provide enough water for us throughout the year. This well gets low water during the dry season, and the pump frequently breaks down."

But taking the extra time to travel to the community well is not feasible for Christiana when she is trying to deliver vital health services, so she often must rely on what water patients' families can collect, or do without - a problem that could have fatal consequences for weakened patients.

The staff and patients are not the only ones suffering due to the well's inability to provide sufficient water year-round. Local community members like 13-year-old Aminata depend on the well to meet their daily water needs, and when the well is not functioning, they are forced to search for water from other sources, too.

"I help my mother to fetch water for the house every day," said Aminata. "In the morning, I fetch water from the well at the health center to wash dishes and to bathe before going to school. Sometimes it [is] not easy to fetch a single bucket of water to my house when the well is not working."

When Aminata (collecting water at the community well in the photo above) is unable to collect water from the health post well, she must go in search of water elsewhere. "When the well is not providing water, I would go to the others far away from the health center to fetch water."

The faraway wells are overcrowded, so Aminata wastes time waiting in long lines and is inevitably late for school.

"There was a time I stayed long at the well waiting to fetch water in the evening," said Aminata. "I returned to the house very fatigued and could not read my school notes when I had to write an examination the following day. I struggled on writing the exam on that day, [and] at the end of it I could not meet the average score."

A rehabilitated well will strengthen health services and improve the daily lives of the community members living in Petifu Junction and hopefully give them healthier, happier futures.

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


12/15/2022: Petifu Junction Health Post Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Petifu Junction Health Post 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.

"Today, I am happy because this well is renewed, and enough water is coming out. It is clean and safe to drink. Previously, it [was] difficult to complete my duties because of limited access to water at the health facility. Now all [the] constraints [we] faced in this facility are over. I will carry out my duties easily and complete [them] on time," said 32-year-old nurse Fatmata Sesay.

"Before, fetching water in the community was not easy. I live very close to the health facility, [and] I usually fetched water [for] the health facility, but this well was not enough [since] it produced [a] low quantity of water. But today, this well is functioning well and provides enough water," said 13-year-old Isatu T. "Drinking safe and pure water contributes to good health, and with this well in my community [it] will contribute to my health. I will not drink contaminated water anymore, thanks to you."

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. 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 Isatu made statements on their community's behalf.

Healthcare workers, together with the community people, gathered at the water point, singing and dancing to express their joy and happiness for the well's rehabilitation.

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 23 meters with water at 16 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.

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.

The session on worms and parasites was one of the most memorable topics during the training. The dangers of worms were described, and a participant spoke up to share her experience with her three-year-old grandson.

She said he was always complaining of stomachaches, had a distended belly, and refused to eat. He was very sick, but she did not believe the problem was worms, so instead of taking him to the health facility, she used herbs to treat him without success. One day some nurses came to the community to give worm medication to children, but she was afraid to go with her grandson for the medication. A neighbor volunteered to take him instead.

After two days, the child defecated a bunch of worms, which surprised his grandmother. She shared the news with the neighbor, who told her the child could have died if she did not insist on taking him for treatment. The grandmother thanked her neighbor for saving her grandson's life, and since then, her grandchildren get worm medicine every three months.

"This training is valuable to me as a nurse because what I have learned here has added more value [to] my career even though [I] am a nurse," said 31-year-old nurse and secretary of the water user committee Fatmata Kamara. "Some of these things are new to me, like tippy-tap construction. So, I have gained new knowledge from this training, and I will continue to pass on this new knowledge to my patients. I am so grateful for this hygiene and sanitation training I received."

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!




10/25/2022: Petifu Junction Health Post Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Petifu Junction Health Post 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 health post 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

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