This assessment trip was the first official trip conducted by the newly-formed Sierra Leone Program. Its purpose was to definitively determine the most pressing need in the community, establish contacts with contractors and government officials and sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Firstly, chapter participants conducted 21 household surveys to determine the greatest needs of the village, learning that water supply was the village’s biggest self-identified issue. The group then observed water usage, mapped current water sources and latrines, and conducted extensive biological and chemical testing of those identified water sources. By our estimate, the village was observed to use about 11 liters of water per person per day, which is much lower than even emergency levels, as defined by the World Health Organization. Also biological tests showed significant and sometimes possibly dangerous levels of coliform bacteria in their water sources. After meeting with village leaders to discuss the logistics of and price estimates for a water supply project, it was concluded that a borehole well would be the best solution. Afterwards, five well sites were proposed jointly between us, the community and experienced water technicians.
The group then observed and recorded water usage at various water sites. Mapping current wells, water sources, and latrines, the group tested current water sources, conducting biological and chemical tests that indicated that even though the villages water sources were WHO standards some sources had high counts of coliform bacteria. The group met with many village leaders to determine the logistics and price estimates of a water supply project and concluded a borehole well would be the best solution, after which they proceeded to identify 5 potential well sites.
The trip concluded with the chapter signing an MOU with the community and Wellbody Alliance. The chapter also found several contacts within the village, local contractors, and government officials willing to provide assistance and ground support in the future. Overall, we determined possible locations within the village for water supply, measured contaminants in the water, and developed a close relationship with the community which allowed us to set up a water usage committee and taxation system to support the well’s construction.