Upon completion of the project, our partner in the field reports...
When Living Water Sierra Leone arrived, per community request, the well that was depended on to meet the water needs of this 375-person community, was not functioning. The well was dry and since there was no pump it was, according to the Living Water team, "hugely contaminated." The Sierra Leone team went on to share, "The casing was filled with sand and the lining was greatly damaged. This resulted in major work being necessary to restore the well and to sink it making it essential to undertake major concrete work." For this farming community water does not only fulfill the needs of the body, but also fulfills needs for their livelihoods. According to the Living Water team, "there were many people who had backyard gardens and small-scale businesses." Like many other communities in the Living Water Sierra Leone operational area, the community of Kalie Town-Crossing is not devoid of health-related problems largely due to open defecation, poor environmental sanitation, lack of basic hygiene information and poor personal health practices. Even though there are some communal sanitation facilities, they are not sufficient to meet the needs of the people. All of the water sources in and around the area are contaminated, not only because they are open to the elements, but also because of the extremely poor hygiene and sanitation practices in the area. There were three wells that were constructed by the Kwama Community Development Program (KCDP) with funds provided by Plan International Sierra Leone in 2001. However, after experiencing major breakdowns some three years after, the wells were never repaired. This left the people with no other choice than to use a stream for all of their water needs. This community has not recorded a single case of Ebola, but all the members are feeling the impact of the epidemic, just like the rest of the citizens in the country, as there is a growing lack of essential foods and an increase in the price of essential goods and services. Fortunately, for the people of Kalie Town-Crossing, the burden of water will no longer affect the people, and families will have new opportunities to develop their community by securing a foundation for good health through safe water and by making informed hygiene and sanitation choices. To protect their well from contamination from livestock and to keep children from playing near the well site and accidently damaging the well, the five-person water committee that was established to help with the well construction, supply materials and maintain the well, built a fence around the well. During the week, the water committee was also trained to maintain the well and manage its water resources. In Kalie Town-Crossing, a water committee was selected and has the responsibility of taking care of the pump. This group was trained in leadership as a committee and also on proper care and handling of the pump so that the community knows how to properly use the pump to avoid frequent breakdowns. One man, pictured below, was trained in basic pump maintenance so that he can carry out the basic maintenance of simple tasks. For all major breakdowns, a qualified technical person is asked to undertake the repair of the pumps. The local government or a technician from a neighboring community is usually asked to assist the community when this occurs. Living Water Sierra Leone is also available to assist the community to help make repairs if necessary.
Open disposal of waste and open defecation were common in the area and were seen being practiced in Kalie Town-Crossing. To help further alleviate burdens associated with poor health, the Living Water team shared life-saving hygiene and sanitation lessons with 45 beneficiaries. The team used a LWI Traditional Method, which is a participatory method to help community members discover ways to improve their hygiene and sanitation choices and implement community-driven solutions. This method also educates the people of the value of making good, informed hygiene and sanitation choices. Some of the lessons taught were: disease transmission, germs, healthy and unhealthy communities, latrine perception, diarrhea doll-causes of diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, good-bad hygiene behaviors, disease transmission stories, tippy tap and keeping the water clean. The training helped the community understand how poor hygiene and sanitation practices contributed to their poor health. The people have now scaled up efforts to improve their hygiene and sanitation situation. To embark on their acceptance of these lessons into their everyday lives, the people built tippy taps for community use and also constructed a pit latrine that can be shared by a number of households.
Community Member Interview
"We used to collect water from an open stream and the water was so dirty–it was not desirable for us to use," shared 38-year-old community member and farmer, Aminata. "We only had to use the water because we did not have any choice. Now we thank God that we have clean and safe water within easy reach from our houses. We will no longer have to rely on the stream to access the water."
The community has no formal church and the few Christians identified have to travel to neighboring communities to join fellow Christians for fellowship and worship. After sharing the gospel in this primarily Muslim community, 6 people made a commitment to follow Christ as Lord of their lives. A total of 25 Bibles were distributed to help them grow in their new relationship with the Lord. Living Water will continue to work with churches in the area to strengthen the evangelistic activities shared as a way of encouraging the church members. Before dedicating the well to the Lord, and thanking him for his provision of safe water, the story of the "Woman at the Well" was shared with 45 people (6 men, 21 women and 18 children).