Boreholes for fresh water
We hadn’t been in Makeni long before we realised that everyone had a problem finding fresh, clean drinking water. Jonathan worked at Holy Spirit Hospital for a month and when the water ran out in the dry season they had to buy river water that the fire engine delivered to fill their water tanks. We were able to buy bottled water to drink but flushing our toilet, washing our hands and preparing food was a problem without a source of clean water.
Everyday at the University we saw people carrying heavy buckets of water from the wells to the latrine blocks. Sister Mary at St Joseph’s School explained that if she had clean running water for drinking and washing, then the children at the school would be so much healthier!
We decided that getting clean water to the University, Hospital and St Joseph’s School needed to be a priority and so set about trying to get quotes for three boreholes. We hoped that family and friends would help us raise the money needed.However, we soon realised that we did not have a lot of choice when it came to finding a company to drill boreholes. The Korean Group seemed to have a monopoly in this work and quoted us £30,000. This seemed a lot of money but as we couldn’t find anyone else to quote we agreed to ask them to do the work.
In January 2010 The Korean Group arrived in Makeni with drills and generators and trucks and got started. After four days we had three boreholes drilled complete with pumps and water tanks to store the water. All that was needed was to add pipework to take the water around the sites.
Everyone was delighted with the clean water. The teachers at St Joseph’s School are able to take a five litre container home each night full of fresh water for their families, and the children in the school are able to get a drink when they want to, wash their hands and flush their toilets. Having showers is much more fun when you don’t have to use a bucket and cup! The University has extended the pipe work so that toilets flush, taps work and there is plenty of drinking water for the students.
However, the borehole at the Hospital has been problematic.After a few months of use the sides of the borehole collapsed and the pump was ruined. The borehole was flushed out and the pump was replaced, but again the borehole collapsed and the pump was lost. After a long delay the Trust was able to obtain the support of the Josephite Fathers at Lunsar, who organised for a conventional well to be dug. With the installation of a submersible pump in May 2012, the hospital finally has the plentiful supply of clean water that it needs.
There is plenty of water in Sierra Leone in the long wet season, but many hand dug wells run short in the dry season as they are not deep enough. In the right kind of ground, boreholes can be answer to the problem, as you can drill deep enough to where is a plentiful supply of lovely fresh water waiting to be used.
Thanks to Water for Kids, Alkemy Gold, David and Felicity Paling, and friends and family for all their support for this project.
During the Ebola Virus crisis in 2014/2015, access to these abundant clean water supplies is said to have been especially helpful in protecting against the spread of the disease.]
Water for Yifin
In the remote north of the country, in an area that can only be reached by sturdy four-wheel drive vehicles, and sometimes inaccessible in the rainy season, there is an isolated town called Yifin. The town suffered a lot of damage in the rebel war and, because of its remoteness, post war developments have tended to come rather late. Before we left Makeni we were asked by the bishop if we could find the money to bring water to a secondary school in the town.
The aqueduct network that used to bring drinking water from an old reservoir in the nearby mountains to the centre of the town was partially damaged, causing enormous difficulties to the inhabitants, whose basic drinking water source was now situated 2 miles distant from the village. This inevitably led to diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea, due to the use of undrinkable water.
The organisation Caritas Italiana had offered funding to repair/renew pipework up to the centre of the town, but there was not enough money to pipe the water to the school where there were 500 children. We approached Water for Kids who generously gave the money, so the school now has drinking water, hand washing facilities and water to flush the latrines. The first picture illustrates the difficulty of access to Yifin, the second shows the good outcome of Water for Kids funding.