The 2012 Pre-assessment Trip took place from August 12 - September 3. Mike and Christine stayed for the full time. Steph and Katie left for the US one week early.
After flying into Lungi Airport in Sierra Leone, the team stayed in the Freetown area for four days. During that time, the team met with officials at the Salone Water Company (Salwaco) to talk about the state of water quality in the country and set out an agreement for completing water testing in the national lab. Meetings also took place with Energy for Opportunity (EFO), the group that we worked with to install solar panels on the Wellbody Alliance clinic in 2010.
The team made the 12 hour drive out to the Kono District, reaching Koidu. The city of Koidu is the capital of the district, with a population of about 80,000. The team then set about assessing small communities outside of the city of Koidu to determine the possibility of partnering for an EWB program. The team visited the villages of Koeyor, Small Sefadu, and Wardu during the first week in Koidu. During these visits, community members were interviewed, discussions with the village leadership took place, and a technical assessment and water quality survey was conducted. All these communities had noticeable needs - electricity at the health building in Koeyor, a bridge over the river in Small Sefadu, and water quality improvements in Wardu. None of the communities, however, were ideal for an EWB-USA program, whether due to lack of enough needs or cohesive definition of the community. During this week, a follow-up assessment of the solar panel system on the Wellbody Alliance clinic was completed. The system is still in good shape after two years of use.
During the second week in Koidu, Steph and Katie departed to return to the United States. Mike and Christine stayed in the area, assessing the community of Dorma. Ultimately, Dorma proved to be the most suitable of the communities visited for a project. Their needs include an improved well and water sanitation system, permanent latrines, and proper bridges across streams to Koidu. The community leadership also was eager to partner with the Princeton chapter to address these problems.
For the remainder of the week, Mike and Christine met with six local NGOs in the Koidu area to discuss their projects and work in the region, talked with contractors and construction supply companies to determine material availability and prices, and set up permanent contacts for communication once we departed the area.
Before departing Sierra Leone, a number of water samples from Dorma were dropped off in Freetown at the Water Ministry for testing. The results of these tests, along with some completed upon returning to the United States, formed the basis for the choice of a well improvement and water sanitation project as the first objective of the new EWB program.
Reach archived posts from our time on the ground on our blog.