Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 185 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/08/2024

Project Features

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At least two months of each year, the well in Mathen goes dry. But even when the well is functioning, the water it provides makes people sick. No matter the time of year, the 285 people of this community are suffering from a lack of clean, reliable water.

The well was installed nearing the end of Sierra Leone's civil wars in 2001. Since then, the well has not been monitored, maintained, or treated. And as the effects of climate change worsen and the water table lowers, the well's downtime will only lengthen without intervention.

“Variations in spatial distribution and intensity of rainfall, combined with increased surface temperatures (influencing evapotranspiration), are directly affecting the potential recharge of groundwater aquifers as well as increasing surface water precipitation.” - UNICEF

During the well's ever-extending downtime, the community members' only option is the milky, sour-smelling water from the swamp.

"The water situation in this community is not easy," said 41-year-old trader Mahawa Kamara (shown fetching water from the swamp above).

"Ever since the well parallel to the mosque got spoiled, it has been one difficulty [after] another. I walk a far distance to fetch water from the alternate source, which is swamp water. Fetching water from this source is time-consuming and strenuous. By the time I do two trips, I am exhausted. Also, there are times I pay youths in my area to fetch water for me to use for my domestic activities."

The water scarcity affects Mahawa's schedule every single day.

"I am a trader that sells lots of things such as rice, cement, sugar, cooking condiments, [and vegetables] such as garden eggs (eggplant), tomatoes, and pepper," Mahawa explained. "Without sufficient water, I will not be able to wash these items. Likewise, the water constraints make it impossible for me to complete work at home. I have [an] extended family, and sufficient water is required for washing, bathing, and other domestic work. Therefore, I do the majority of the work alone; my children often help, but cannot cover a lot of the work because they must go to school."

And she's not the only one whose daily activities rely on water. The main sources of income in Mathen are agriculture and palm oil production, both of which require a steady stream of water. Also, Mathen's community members are predominantly Muslim, and they are currently unable to perform ablutions for the prescribed five times each day due to the water shortage, which is demoralizing.

"I am a student and I need water to clean my school uniforms and house clothes," said 14-year-old Kadiatu K (shown above carrying water home from the swamp). "This must be done with enough water. Also, I am practicing the Islamic religion. I need sufficient clean water to perform [my] ablutions on time."

Although Kadiatu knows proper hygiene techniques, she is unable to put them into practice because of the water crisis.

"As a student, I was taught in school to wash my hands frequently after using the latrine or playing with harmful materials," Kadiatu said. "But I cannot practice proper handwashing because I am out of clean and sufficient water to wash my hands. I will be happy after the community well is rehabilitated. This will help [me] achieve all domestic work on time like washing dishes, cooking, and [the laundering] of clothes."

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

March, 2024: Mathen Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point in the 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.

"I will now be punctual in school because I will be able to fetch water from the well on time. This will make me have enough time to prepare earlier before going to school. This water point will help me to launder my school uniforms. This was a hard thing for me to do in the past due to the water constraints I used to face. Also, this water point will help me to do all my house chores early, so I will have enough time to study," said 12-year-old Fatmata.

Fatmata pours clean water.

"The water point is a blessing because I will no longer walk far distances to fetch water. I remembered when the well was faulty. I used to cross the street to fetch water from the swamp, which is a distance away from my house. To fetch water from this well was not easy for me due to the walking distance and the climbing of the hill. Especially to climb the hill with a heavy jerry can on my head. My knees and other joints in my body are normally affected," said 41-year-old trader Mahawa Kamara.

Mahawa (yellow shirt) is happy with clean water.

"But now, with this new water point, all the initial constraints I used to face are over. I will be able to fetch enough water that can serve us at home for a couple of days. This water point will help me to pay more attention [to] my trade. Therefore, I will be able to use the remaining time to sell. I will be able to prepare food for the family on time. As a result, the family will be able to eat earlier before going out to their respective occupations," continued Mahawa.

We held a dedication ceremony to hand over the well to the community members officially. Several local dignitaries attended the ceremony, including representatives from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Port Loko District Council, a local nurse, and the local Health Inspector. 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, Mahawa and Fatmata made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

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 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 15 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.

Chlorinating 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.

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.

Dental hygiene session.

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.

A community member helps share visual aids during the training.

"I see this training as an opportunity for me as I've learned a lot about the ways that prevent us from getting sick, especially in disease transmission. During one of the lessons, I saw the dangers of not having a latrine. The people from the stories on the posters show how people got sick because of open defecation. Therefore, I see this lesson as a way to help my family, close friends, and relatives have a functional latrine. This will minimize the chances of disease transmission as open defecation would be avoided," said Mahawa (quoted earlier).


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!


48 individual donor(s)