Everyone loves a good success story, and we have many to share from this recent project.

Thanks to Matta, Nancy, Matu and others, you’ll get a deep dive from their perspectives into our partnership with the village of Tombohuaun, in Sierra Leone. Breaking down the process of how we install and maintain clean water, you’ll see for yourself how it transforms an already strong community into a thriving and empowered one.

To fully appreciate where things are now, we must first look back at how it was before clean water was an accessible reality. Tombohuaun is a village with a long history. Kailahun, the region where it is situated, is known colloquially as 'the place where bad things come from'. It is where the first shots were fired in the 1991-2002 civil war, and where the first cases of Ebola were reported in the 2014 epidemic. Tombohuaun is in the middle of miles of jungle - at least an hour and a half's drive from the nearest paved road, and over two hours from Kenema, the regional hub. The community has no electricity, no phone signal, no school, no clinic, and pre-intervention, no clean water. Despite these challenges, the community is united, working together for everyone's benefit.

Pre-intervention, the women and children were largely responsible for water collection. We hear from mother, Matta, and her 7 year-old son, Lahai, on the challenges of this task.

WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence
Matta Saffah, 27, puts a basin of dirty water on the head of her son Lahai, 7, after collecting it from a natural spring, the previous water source, in the village of Tombohuaun. Everyone in the village has experienced persistent problems with worms,  ...
WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence
Matta Saffah, 27, puts a basin of dirty water on the head of her son Lahai, 7, after collecting it from a natural spring, the previous water source, in the village of Tombohuaun. Everyone in the villa
"I collect water in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I walk down to the water source. After filling my bowl I put it on my head. If no one is there I have to put it on my knee because it's easier to put it on my head myself that way. The water is heavy because the distance is long. My boys don't follow me always, sometimes they refuse to go. The water they carry is quite helpful to me. They only started helping me this year."
Lahai, 7, carries a basin of dirty water with his mother Matta Saffah, 27, as they make their way home from the previous dirty water source, a natural spring in the village of Tombohuaun. Everyone in the village has experienced persistent problems wit ...
WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence
Lahai, 7, carries a basin of dirty water with his mother Matta Saffah, 27, as they make their way home from the previous dirty water source, a natural spring in the village of Tombohuaun. Everyone in
"After putting water in the bowl I ask my mum to put it on my head. I use two hands to hold the bowl on my head. If I hold it with one hand it will fall down. I can't put it on my head by myself as if I try all the water will be lost. There's a tree trunk across the path so I have to sit down on it before putting my legs over. I have energy, I'm a strong boy. I don't go by myself, I fear for cannibals. I go with mummy. We drink the water when we get home. We can cook with it. We wash clothes with it. I go every time with my mum."

Step 1: Community Engagement

WaterAid/ Nana Kofi Acquah

  • We work with the community to educate everyone on sanitation and hygiene practices.
     

  • The community creates a map of the village, showing where the houses, latrines, water resources and open defecation sites are.
     

  • Fecal-oral transmission is demonstrated using objects like sticks and stones to represent feces, flies and water. This establishes the link between sickness and dirty water directly. 

Step 2: Planning and Monitoring

WaterAid/ Nana Kofi Acquah

  • WaterAid provides planning and monitoring support, and the technical designs for the toilets, as well as designs for dish racks and laundry lines, so that plates and pans are kept off the floor, as are drying clothes.
     

  • The community digs pit latrines using local materials for the walls and roofs.
     

  • A water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committee is formed with local residents, composed of five men and five women, who are given training on hygiene and environmental sanitation.

Step 3: Site Selection and Installation

WaterAid/ Nana Kofi Acquah

  • The women of the community decide where the water point goes.
     

  • Water samples are collected and sent to the government lab for analysis.
     

  • Excavation is done at the end of the dry season to make sure the site has a sustainable water supply.
     

  • Once the water is deemed acceptable, the walls of the well are lined and reinforced and the pump is installed.

Something fantastic is about to happen

There are too many smiles to count at this celebration!