Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 164 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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The well in Mathen hasn't worked for the past three years. Since then, these 164 people's only source of water has been a scoop hole in the local swamp.

"The implementing partner that brought the [well] into the village 21 years [ago] has long since left with no exit strategy," said our field officer, Moses. "The community people are tired of making fruitless repairs and have stopped [trying] since the well went dry. When there was water inside the well, chlorination and repairs were done by private contractors that charged exorbitant prices. They usually made [the well] function for weeks at a time knowing that they [would] be called again."

So, Mathen's people have resigned themselves to using the cloudy swamp water that tastes like mud and leaves a chalky film on the skin of those who bathe with it, even after it has been sieved and boiled. With water conditions as bad as these, the health consequences are endless, easily sending any user of the water to the hospital. The most common illnesses are typhoid, cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and skin irritations, with multiple children in Mathen having died from diarrhea and vomiting in the past year.

“Children require more water (by weight) than adults, so their exposure to water-borne pathogens is much higher. Diarrhoeal diseases cause dehydration in children much faster than in adults. Children are more likely to develop severe infections and experience complications during recovery due to their small body size and their developing immune systems, which provide little natural immunity or resistance.” - UNICEF

"As an elder, I suffer the most when it comes to getting safe water to drink," said 75-year-old Bonturabi Kamara (shown fetching water in the photo below).

For now, Bonturabi feels spry enough to make the long trip to the swamp and bend down at the scoophole to fill a container. But other elders in the village must trade money or a plate of food for a youth to go and fetch water for them because crouching over the water source is not an easy task.

"I spend most of my time at home looking after my grandchildren," Bonturabi continued. "I see no other group of people that wastes water more than children. Clothes laundered at the swamp end up being damaged in no time. They change color. In the dry season, I find it difficult to get water."

14-year-old Mamusu B. is proud to have made it as far in school as she has. "The happiest moment of my life was when I was promoted to the first form (the first grade of secondary school)," Mamusu said. "It is rare for girls to reach secondary school in my village. Our parents refuse to pay school fees because they say the result is always getting pregnant for the young girls."

But keeping her exam scores high is not easy when trekking to the swamp to fetch water eats up so much of her valuable spare time.

"I get up very early in the morning to fetch water, clean the compound, wash pots and pans and finally warm up my leftover rice before going to school. I [also] warm water over the fire for my father to bathe before going to school. To reduce the time spent doing chores, I now fetch water in the evening even though [the water] is dirtier than normal. I leave the water in a large open container overnight, making it easier to bail with a scoop, rubber (bucket), or pan.

"My school is almost four miles away. Walking the long distance means I leave my home hours before the start of school. My friends and I will keep our uniforms inside our bags until we get to school and change to prevent [them] from getting dirty from the dust from the road."

Safe, reliable water within Mathen Community will alleviate the burdens on the water-fetchers of the community like Bonturabi and Mamusu. Drinking water that is protected, monitored, tested, and treated will lessen the occurrences of water-related illnesses, which will help keep children healthy and happy.

"I will be the happiest [person] in the entire community when finally we get a water well that is going to serve us all year-round," Mamusu concluded.

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

February, 2024: Mathen Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"As the only female child of my parents, I have the responsibility to do all the domestic work at home before going to school. I had to walk a long distance to go in search of water, and after that, I had to clean the compound and wash the dirty dishes. I also had to wash my younger brothers' clothes, [and] my parents' clothes before going to school. After school, I had to get water for my mother to prepare the family meal. These activities affected my academic work greatly because, after all this work, I did not have time to study my notes. At the end of the academic year, I [did] not have good grades," said 14-year-old Mamusu B.

Mamasu drinking safe water!

"The completion of this water point in my community has brought so much joy into my life. I will have time to do my domestic work very quickly because I will not have to go a long distance to fetch water. I have no constraints because the water well is right in front of my house. My academic work has also improved. The swamp I had been drinking from all this time has finally come to an end. No more stomach pain, typhoid, or cholera," said Mamusu.

Women celebrating at the well.

"I was informed by the community stakeholders that people came into my community to discuss water-related issues. I knew that all my suffering for water would be over someday. The access to reliable and safe water from this water point will impact my life greatly compared to before. I had to walk a long distance to fetch water; the swamp is always overpopulated because people from neighboring communities also fetch water from the same place where I usually collect it. Sometimes, by the time I go to the water point to fetch water, I will find the water in bad condition because it has been collected by many people. But now that the water well is at my doorstep, I will never suffer such problems any longer," said 55-year-old farmer Bontirabi Kamara.


"Now that the water point is completed, as a farmer and a mother of six children attending school, I will not have to undergo all these problems with water I had been going through. I will wake up and prepare my children for school," Bontirabi concluded.

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

Mr. Osman Fofanah, a Ministry of Water Resources representative, was at the dedication ceremony, giving thanks for the excellent work that compliments the government's water-related efforts.

Mr. Bangura (striped shirt) with others celebrating clean water!

He said, "It is the responsibility of the government to provide safe and reliable drinking water for the community because they cannot afford it themselves. As a government, [we] cannot afford to meet all the needs of [our] subjects, so [we] are happy for the work you are doing in these communities across the three chiefdoms in Port Loko District."

He admonished the people to take advantage of the hygiene training they received and to care for their well correctly.

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 18 meters with water at 13 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.

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.

Handwash training.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, teen pregnancy, worms and parasites, proper dental hygiene, menstrual hygiene, proper care of the well's pump, keeping the water clean, the cost recovery system, the importance of using dish racks and clotheslines, the importance of toilets, keeping latrines clean, balanced diets, the diarrhea doll, and disease transmission and prevention, COVID-19, Ebola, Hepatitis, HIV and AIDS.

"I feel so happy to be part of this training. More especially for the knowledge I have gained from the different hygiene lessons. I liked the tippy tap that was constructed easily. This is more economical as it will save lives through handwashing. The knowledge from this training will help me to know how to prevent sickness," said Bonitrabi.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we're working toward complete coverage. That means 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!

January, 2024: Mathen Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Mathen Community costs people time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things will soon improve here. We are now working to install a reliable water point and improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing inspiring news in the near future!

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!


Project Sponsor - Jonah Development Corp.
1 individual donor(s)