Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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"I would like to inform you about the water crisis in my village," said 58-year-old farmer Yainkain Bangura (pictured below carrying water). "We need clean water to wash, to cook our food, to drink, and most importantly, to water our crops. If we have no water, [even] for a short period of time, then our crops will wither and die, and most people will go without food or money from selling the crops."

The well in Ponka no longer yields water because the population in this once-small village keeps ballooning upward. The simple hand-dug well dried up due to all the demand. The only alternatives are an overcrowded faraway well in a neighboring community or the local swamp.

"I must make two or more trips of water before going to school," said 14-year-old Fatmata B (shown below). "My first attempt would be at the pump, which is about [a] five to ten minutes walk away from my home. Only that the pump is so overcrowded in the morning hours, and I must be in queue for about forty-five (45) minutes before I could access the water. This situation causes me to spend so much of my time at the pump and not be able to fetch water."

"I would prefer to go to the stream to fetch water," Fatmata continued. "The stream is not overcrowded, only it is [a] distance away from the community. [It] takes me about 30 minutes to get a single trip [of] water. And sometimes, I must bathe at the stream immediately before getting water. That helps me not to be in school late. Although the water is contaminated, because of less time spent, I prefer to use it for domestic activities."

"The environment [around the swamp] is not safe and favorable to fetch water," said our field officer, Moses. "There are lots of contaminants in the water source environment, and [it] is terrible to access. [There are] harmful practices taking place in the water source environment like bathing, laundering of clothes, and farming. On my visit to the water source, I noticed that [there] are animals in this environment, such as snakes, rats, and frogs."

As she explained, Fatmata knows the water from the swamp makes her family sick. But faced with even more time fetching water, she will always choose to collect water where less of her precious time and energy will be spent. It is also common for quarrels and even physical altercations to break out at the well, which would be frightening for a young girl just trying to help her family.

However, using the swamp water has consequences.

"The village has many cases of ill health caused mainly by waterborne diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, and cholera," Moses explained. "Malnutrition is common due to low incomes and general poverty in this community. Food crop production is impossible because of inadequate safe and pure water. The community people wash clothes, bathe, and cultivate crops in the stream environment. That contributes to contaminating the water."

All this carrying, fetching, and waiting weighs heavily on the women and children of Ponka, who shoulder the burden of water-collection for their families. By the end of the day, Fatmata doesn't have enough energy to do her homework.

"Clean water helps free children from deadly and preventable diseases," Moses said. "It liberates women and children from long hours spent gathering dirty, contaminated water. Clean water restores health and opens the door to education, a promising future, and the kind of life God intends for his children."

"We all work together, and together we will succeed," Yainkain said. "I will be happy to have this water source rehabilitated for us."

"I will be happy if we could have another water source in this community," Fatmata 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

March, 2024: Ponka Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share that a safe, reliable water point at Ponka Community in Sierra Leone is now providing clean water to community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, focusing on healthy practices such as handwashing and latrines.

"I am happy for this water well which was provided [by] you. Before, I faced constraints to fetch water in my village. I [had to] go down [to] the swamp to fetch water, and it is a long distance. The [swamp] water is not safe to drink, and when I drink [it], I experience diseases like diarrhea. Today, I have safe and clean water. If I drink it, I will not contract diarrhea. I want to thank God and everyone [who] contributed for this water well," exclaimed 18-year-old Gbassay.

Gbassay (white shirt) celebrating the rehabilitated well!

"Now, [that] this water well has been renewed, I will go to school on time, launder my uniform easily, sweep the house every day, and access clean and safe drinking water every day. I will no [longer be] walking a long distance to access water," she continued.

The excitement was hard to contain! 58-year-old farmer Yeakin Bangura shared her joy about the newly rehabilitated well too.

Yeakin excited for clean flowing water!

"I want to say plenty thanks to the donors [who] renewed this water well. I am happy today because I have access to water in my village. Before, I found it difficult to access water unless I walked a long distance to fetch water from the swamp. But today, I will no [longer be] accessing swamp water, and I will not drink unsafe water. Now, I have access to clean and safe water to drink. Once again, thanks to you," Yeakin shared.

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

Osman Fofanah (red shirt), from the Ministry of Water Resources, celebrates during the dedication ceremony.

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 21 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 remove 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!

Clean water is now flowing!

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 lead several topics and spread awareness about Sierra Leone's free vaccinations for children under five. Nurse Jestina Kamara was instrumental in reinforcing each lesson.

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.

Training session.

The Ponka Community was incredibly engaged throughout the three-day training session. By the last day, more than 70 people had attended!

The topic of mosquito nets and how to prevent and treat Malaria was deeply personal to Humu Kamara, who nearly lost her young daughter to the disease. She told the story during the training. In the morning, the child was playing but suddenly started developing symptoms. Humu didn't know what had caused the sudden onset of symptoms. As her daughter continued to get sicker, Humu was very worried. She took her to the herb doctor (local practitioner) and was given some herbs. After several days, her daughter just continued to get worse. All the while, Humu didn't know what was causing the illness. She decided to take the child to the hospital, where she was admitted and tested for malaria, and the results came back positive. Her daughter responded well to treatment and, thankfully, recovered.

Nurse Jestina Kamara discusses mosquito nets.

Nurse Jestina Kamara shared how Malaria is spread and that the best way to prevent it is by using mosquito nets while sleeping. She also stressed the importance of visiting a health clinic or hospital if anyone exhibits symptoms.


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: Ponka Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Ponka 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!


2 individual donor(s)