Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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While the water crisis affects all 200 people in Mapitherr, the ones who suffer the most are the kids.

The problem started when the main well in Mapitherr dried out. Since then, community members have had to travel a long distance across a busy highway to an alternative well in a neighboring community. This means they're fighting with a lot of people to get water during busy times before and after work or school.

"The water crisis has been a major challenge in this community, especially to school-going pupils," said 13-year-old Abu K (pictured on the left).

He continued: "Firstly, the water crisis plays a negative role in our academic performance. I and my brothers always go to school late due to the shortage of water in our community. We wake early in the morning to fetch [the] water we have in this community, but we are unable to get water due to the high number of people. We must wait for our turn to fetch water, and by the time we get water, it is already late for us to go to school on time. This is one of the reasons why we always perform poorly, because we always miss the first lesson, and sometimes, the teachers ask us to go home for [coming late]."

With so many people trying to claim their share of water, not everyone can be successful.

"My children and I wake up early morning to go in search of water," said 35-year-old farmer and trader Fatmata Manseray (shown right).

"We normally meet a large crowd at the alternate water source," Fatmata continued. "We must wait for our turn before fetching water. We always return to our house late with just a small amount. My children are sometimes late to go to school when there is a serious water crisis. They struggle with everything just to get water, but sometimes their effort [is] in vain. By the time they get water, it is already late to go to school, and this has a negative impact on their academic performance."

It's so discouraging that, even after spending so much of their time trying to get water, the people of Mapitherr can never get enough of it to accomplish even the most basic everyday tasks.

"We sometimes fail to launder our uniforms because of the water crisis," Abu said. "We keep using the same [uniform] throughout the week. This makes our uniforms [dirty] within the shortest possible time. For those of us that came from poor families, we end up using our house clothes to go to school. This is really embarrassing compared to those whose families are strong."

Going to school wearing dirty clothes saps Abu's concentration, but even worse is when he hasn't eaten since the day before.

"If I do not come home and fetch water from the alternate water source for the preparation of food, we end up going to bed without eating," Abu explained. "Sometimes overcrowding at the alternate water source may prevent us from getting water [at] the time we need it. If we are late to come with water, our parents may decide to cancel the preparation of food, and this will make us tired, and hunger will be the order of the day. This simply means we are going to school the following day without eating. If we do not eat before going to school, we will not be able to pay attention."

"Sometimes, I leave my business place to fetch water," said Fatmata. "I lost my regular customers because they always miss me when they come around. This plays a negative role in the running of my business. The water crisis also prevents me from going to my shop early, because I must fetch water before going anywhere. As a farmer, I need water to process the crops. Most [of my] crops [dried out] because of [the] shortage of water."

The lack of water in Mapitherr taints every single aspect of the community members' lives. It's not surprising, therefore, that they were ecstatic to hear their dry well may soon be rehabilitated.

"On [our] arrival today, the people were so excited about the project," said our field officer, Moses. "One of them by the name of Sinneh took a cutlass and started [clearing the plants] around the proposed well site. Farming is a problem around the well, but the people have promised that they would stop planting crops around the well area."

"The problem of the water crisis will be solved by this well, and this will help to prevent disease outbreaks in the future and save the lives of the school-going people," Abu concluded.

A new water source will hopefully restore the lives of the people in Mapitherr. With free time, more energy, and a significant tool towards accomplishing their everyday tasks, things should improve rapidly.

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

April, 2024: Mapitherr Community Well Rehabilitation Complete!

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

"This water well is a great help to me and the entire community. This is because I am no longer suffering to fetch water. I used to cross the highway every day to fetch water from the well across the street. This is risky because the vehicles pass at a high speed. But now, I will no longer cross the street to fetch water because the water well is close to our house. I can use the water to do all [my] domestic work," said 44-year-old trader Fatmata Mansaray.

Fatmata celebrating.

"I am now able to fetch water to cook on time. This was the area that I found [most] difficult to do because of the past water situation. Now, it is the opposite. Also, I can pay more attention to my trade because I have enough time to attend to my customers. This will make me increase the things I sell, such as sugar, biscuits, sweets, and bread," Fatmata continued.

"I used to face challenges to fetch water for my parents because I used to cross the street to fetch water. It was not easy for me, especially when I had to cross the highway. I would stand for some time and wait for the vehicles and motorbikes to pass. This delays me as some of the drivers are impatient. They would not slow down for me to cross. But today, I am no longer experiencing this challenge. I can fetch enough water in the morning hours before going to school," said 16-year-old Abibu.

Abibu splashing water.

"The water well will help me fetch water to do my work at home before going to school. This will prevent me from going to school late. The water well will also help me to have leisure time to play with my friends," Abibu 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, Fatmata and Abibu made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Celebrating clean water!

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.

Raising the tripod.

Finally, we lined up the drill rods and started to drill! We reached a final depth of 13.6 meters with water at 5.7 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.

Yield test.

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.

Installing 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.

Clean drinking water for all!

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.

Community members participated in the lessons.

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.

Practicing proper handwashing.

"[A] memorable topic covered during the training session was handwashing. The community members saw the importance of handwashing; however, some were ignorant at the time about how to do proper handwashing techniques. This was made known when one of the participants shared her experience with us. From what she said, we came to understand that she normally washes her hands after using the latrine. [But] even though she continually did this, she was experiencing water-related illnesses like typhoid and cholera [causing her to] spend unnecessary money on treatment. In this training, she saw how to wash our hands with soap and clean water. In the past, she was not even using soap to wash her hands [and she] would still use the same hands to continue cooking. Her experience made the other participants treat the topic with great significance," shared Field Officer Julius Sesay.

Dental hygiene training session.

"The training was valuable to me because I learned a lot. The experience I gained during the training will help me improve my hygiene practices, especially handwashing and taking care of the place I live. All this will prevent me from getting sick," said Fatmata (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!

March, 2024: Mapitherr Community Well Rehabilitation Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Mapitherr 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!


18 individual donor(s)