Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 292 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

The entire community of Mathen lacks a single water source. This forces 292 people to walk into the neighboring town for water every day.

While the walk itself should last only twenty minutes or so, the worst part is what comes after: the wait. Because there aren't enough water sources for everyone in this area, people from several different communities all converge on the local school's well. And what exacerbates this difficult situation is that the well is only open to the public during limited hours so as not to disturb the students' classes. The demand during those times is extremely high.

Meanwhile, Mathen Community's public well sits with no water and a broken pump.

"The present water situation is affecting me every day," said 15-year-old Fatmata K. (shown below carrying water).

"Ever since the main water source got dry, I find it hard to fetch water promptly from the alternate source at the school. The well at the school is highly congested in the morning hours. A large number of people would be there with their containers. I must wait 'til it gets to my turn to fetch water. Due to the long waiting time, I would not be able to complete some of the work at home. I would just rush up to wash the dirty dishes and take my bath before going to school. This affects my time of schooling, making me not to be punctual."

People's desperation to ensure they get their share has caused quarreling between the people who must wait, sometimes for hours, just to fill a bucket with water.

"Fetching water from this source is not easy because of the crowd," said 30-year-old trader Adama Jalloh (shown below fetching water).

"The well will be jam-packed with people, especially in the morning and evening hours. These are the two important times in which water is highly needed in the community. Most times at the well, if a water user goes with ten containers to fetch water. They would not allow the others to fetch until he/she is through. This is really slowing my trade."

A lack of water delays all the tasks that require it, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even some livelihoods. This is especially true for Adama, who makes her living processing palm oil.

"The congestion of people at the water point will prevent me to fetch the required amount of water for processing my palm oil," Adama said. "Truly speaking, drums of water [are] needed for this work to be done with ease. Without sufficient water, the work would not be done. That is why I normally lose customers who normally buy from me in large quantities. The customers always give me prior notice that they need 10 or 15 gallons of palm oil. Failing to do so will make them buy palm oil elsewhere. All this has led to less income at home. This situation makes it virtually impossible for me to support my children and to take care of our immediate needs at home."

Fatmata helps her mother in doing the same work, and it is her responsibility to fetch all the water, which is quite the tedious task, especially after a long day at school.

"Sometimes, it takes over twenty minutes to make a single trip to fetch water," Fatmata explained. "The reason for this is due to the congestion of people at the water source. When my mother is producing palm oil, she needs about three hundred liters of water to do the palm production. That burden to fetch water solely depends on me. There [are] times my mother will help me to fetch water, yet it would still be difficult for us because we would not be able to get the required amount of water we need. All this delays the processing of palm oil and other domestic work at home."

Because it's so difficult to get simple everyday things done, the hygiene and sanitation practices in Mathen are suffering.

"[Community members] will return home with partially filled containers of water," said our field officer, Julius.

"This situation makes most of the community people to be unable to launder their dirty clothes. The water they had fetched will only launder a few clothes. Similarly, water difficulties affect women during their menstrual period. Some of the women will not be able to maintain good personal hygiene because of water constraints. Whenever the water is not enough, the women would tend to manage with the little water they have. This will prevent them from doing things the right way. As a result, they would be prone to sickness. Also, cleaning the home and even the latrines is a big challenge in the community because of the difficulties in fetching water."

"I would be so happy if this community could have a functional well that would never get dry," Adama concluded. "This [would] avert all unnecessary suffering for water I used to experience. I would be able to pay attention to my trade and do my work at home with less difficulties."

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.

The Mathen Community celebrates clean water!

"I want to appreciate the people that provided this water well for us. I have suffered for water for so long because our main source of fetching water was seasonal and easily broken down. This made me go to fetch water from other sources that were far away from my house. The walking distance to the swamp makes me tired. As a result, I will not be able to do many trips to the water point. Since the house I am staying in is a populated house. We consumed a lot of water. Hence, the water I had managed to fetch would not even be enough to serve the family for the day," said trader Adama Jolloh, 45.

"There are times I cook for the community people when there is a program in my community; this causes a lot of constraints. Unless I compel my children to fetch water for me from the swamp," Adama shared.

Adama (blue skirt) is excited about her community's rehabilitated well!

"Now that the water well is very close to my house, all my sufferings are over today. My children will never go to the swamp to fetch water. This alone will save us time to do other important things at home. The completion of this water point has brought so much happiness in my life as all the challenges I used to face are now over. I will now have enough water to cook, launder, and bathe. This will even influence my health positively," she continued.

15-year-old Fatmata echoed Adama's excitement, "As a student, I am very much happy for this project since I will no longer be late for school. In [the] past, I had to walk two miles from my home to the swamp to fetch water. The walking distance alone makes me late for school."

"Now that the waterpoint is at my doorstep, all the constraints I used to face are now over. Therefore, I will be punctual in school and have enough time to study at home. This will tell on my performance greatly. I want to say a very big thanks to all those that have contributed greatly to the success of this project. May the Lord continue to bless them abundantly. The completion of this water point has great advantages to my life as a whole," said Fatmata.

Fatmata (red shirt) dancing in celebration!

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including representatives Mr. Osman Fofanah from the Ministry of Water Resources and Mr. Abubakar Bangura 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, Adama and Fatmata made statements on their community's behalf. The community sang, drummed on five-gallon rubber buckets with sticks, and danced as they celebrated happily.

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.

Preparing the casing.

Finally, we lined up the drill rods and started to drill! We reached a final depth of 15 meters with water at 10 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 the well.

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.

Finishing the rehabilitation.

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.

Training on using a tippy tap handwashing station.

The nurse from Mathen Community Health Center, Kadiatu Kamara, and the local health inspector, Mohamed Kamara were also present for the training. Having these community leaders present increased attendance. They were helpful and instrumental in some of the training discussions.

A local official celebrating.

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, 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.

Topics that were very impactful among the participants were disease transmission and personal hygiene. With this new knowledge, the training participants are now equipped to protect themselves from disease and empowered to make healthy choices and live better lives.

Disease transmission routes.

Adama shared, "The training was valuable to me. I want to thank God for such an opportunity to attend the training. I was able to learn a lot about hygiene, especially the ways to prevent disease transmission. Also, I have learned how to keep the toothbrush safe and clean after using it. I was also able to learn about [making a] tippy tap [and] the importance of hand washing. I used to eat after using the latrine without washing my hands. But today, I learned about the dangers of it. I will use this opportunity to teach others about hygiene, which is good for preventing you from [experiencing] disease."


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!


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5 individual donor(s)