March 20, 2013
The first of the five hand pumps included in the Lene Maria for Clean Water project in Rivercess is now complete, providing access to 400 people in Sengbloh!
We’re proud to be launching our County-by-County program in the River Cess with the Voss Foundation and look forward to working together to address the county’s challenge in meeting the Millennium Development Goal for water by 2017. – Saran Kaba Jones, Founder & Executive Director, FACE Africa
FACE Africa identified Sengbloh as a priority during their initial needs assessment, so Rivercess project implementation began there.
“In June 2012, we worked with the River Cess county engineer and development superintendent to conduct a needs assessment survey which took a comprehensive look at the current need in the County at the district, town and village levels. We worked to systematically identify areas of dire need and where social and economic indicators are very low… After River Cess county authorities highlighted Sengbloh as marginalized and under-served in water and sanitation, we conducted our own needs assessment by visiting the town, speaking to the locals to get firsthand account of their water challenges and needs and visited their current source of water. Sengbloh town is also quite isolated from other towns and villages…[and]inaccessible by car or motorbike making it less likely to be served through the efforts of government and other NGOS. All of the factors above made a clear case for intervention.” – Saran Kaba Jones
A local contractor had begun digging a well on behalf of an NGO several years ago, but the project was abandoned and never completed. During FACE Africa’s initial site visit and community meetings, it was decided to rehabilitate the existing well and outfit it with a new hand pump, capitalizing on existing resources. The community was very eager for the project, gathering rocks and sand in advance of FACE Africa’s arrival on site for the construction phase. FACE Africa noted an impressively high level of leadership in project implementation coming from the women of Sengbloh.
“We were very pleased with the level of cooperation from residents of Sengbloh and the high level of community participation led to a smooth implementation process. Our first County by County project in partnership with the Voss Foundation was a complete success!” – Emmett G. Wilson, Program Coordinator, FACE Africa
In addition to construction, project implementation included selection and training of a water management committee, as well as community sensitization on hygiene.
The water committee, composed of two men and two women, was chosen based on recommendation from the community, their willingness to serve on the committee, and their leadership ability. It is also part of FACE Africa’s policy that only permanent residents are eligible to join the water committee. This is because some residents migrate to larger cities like Monrovia and return to their hometown only for short visits, so the policy ensures that the community retains committed local leadership, and training and capacity building efforts are not wasted. The water committee is responsible for future maintenance and servicing of the water facility, so they received thorough training in pump mechanics as well as a repair tool kit. During construction, they observed and participated in the installation of the hand pump. Training also included learning to completely disassemble and then reassemble the hand pump. FACE Africa commits to monitoring completed projects regularly for up to 10 years, supporting communities as they sustainably manage their own water services and facilities.
Hygiene education is another essential component of project implementation, so that the community understands the importance of safe hygiene practices, clean water and effective sanitation to prevent water-related diseases. Training at Sengbloh was conducted through a series of town hall style meetings and workshops using creative and culturally sensitive communication tools, such as song, drama, stories, and images, to increase awareness about the use of safe water and good hygiene practices. Elders are the key opinion leaders and women are traditionally responsible for domestic water supply and sanitation, as well as maintaining a hygienic home environment, so the involvement of both groups is critical. The water committee was also trained as health educators to promote appropriate water and hygiene practices. FACE Africa has found that rural people sometimes need to hear and understand why the new way of life being proposed (safe pump water) is better than the old way (creek water). In one case a resident mentioned that the creek water was usually cooler then pump water and continued to use the creek water, which illustrates why comprehensive hygiene education is so important!
The rehabilitation of the well and installation of the new hand pump took two weeks, from January 26 – February 9. The well water was chlorinated on the 10th, and the chlorine was allowed to settle for a week before water testing was conducted and a sample sent to the Ministry of Health. The official opening ceremony occurred on February 17th, when the key to the pump was turned over to the town authority.