Author Archives: Mathieu

Preventive Maintenance Approach of community hand pumps in Sierra Leone

Inter Aide Sierra Leone has progressively tested, implemented and adapted a Preventive Maintenance Approach (PMA) in Bombali District of Sierra Leone.  The PMA allows to target 100% functionality:  99% of the maintained hand pumps are in working conditions, only 6 out of 610 being non-functional.

In October 2017, Bombali District is covered by a network of 17 private Pump Technicians, covering the 13 chiefdoms and supervising 610 hand pumps out of the 1400 existing, in more than 517 villages.  Activities started in Tonkolili District end of 2016 with the methodology and tools presented in the following document :

direct link for download :


Preventive Maintenance Approach of community hand pumps in Sierra Leone


Household water treatment, an alternative option to get safe drinking water

Small communities (less than 150 persons) are generally out of the scope of WASH interventions because the investments for a new construction becomes expensive compare to the number of beneficiaries. Moreover, it represents a big workload and it is difficult to have enough people for community participation to build a well.

Beside this, there are some communities for whom it is too difficult to build a well (topographic reasons – village on top of hills, water table too low, rocks layer that makes difficult the digging of a well, etc.). There are also villages who are benefiting from a well only during rainy season because it gets dry on dry season (difficult to dig more and other reasons).

Therefore, one option to help these villages is to develop self-supply solutions such as household water treatment. Villagers can filter and then chlorinate water from their local source or well.

Inter Aide initiated such approach in the north of Bombali district in 2011 with very few villages, to progressively cover more than 100 small communities in the whole district.  The team is training water committees who can chlorinate the water fetched by the rest of the community. This committee is also train to collect and manage money to get refill of chlorine through a network of chlorine providers which is reinforced in parallel.

The uptake of the villagers has been quite quick, observing the real impact on their health and the decrease of diarrhea. The approach is under extension in more villages and other districts…

More details on the following document icon_pdf

HHWT gif

Location of the partners’ shops selling bleach for HHWT in Bombali

End of 2016, there is 14 shops (mainly groceries or tailors) that can supply the hundred and above small communities that are getting safe drinking water thanks to chlorine, plus other communities who can’t get water from a well all through the year because the water point is getting dry during dry season months.

One community must not have to walk more than 20 km / 12 miles to reach the bleach shop.

map bleach sellers

Bleach storekeepers map

These shops are selling a 250 mL bottle 6 000 to 7 000 Leones, that they get at 5 000 Le from the reseller in Makeni (capital district), who get it himself in Freetown at 3 500 Le. It is produced in Sierra Leone (Inter Aide did a market survey to identify producers and to establish this supply chain).


See below an interview with one shop owner, Mr Kalabaty.

There is also a specific report on shops following an internal evaluation done in 2016.

Internal survey on the results of the HHWT program

A specific study was done for 6 months in 2016 with a student – Aurélie Moy – to have a better understanding of the behave of the villagers toward household chlorination:

  • assessing if the uptake of the beneficiaries was really effective (for this, Aurélie visited all the targeted villages and did some random surveys among several household, but she also visited all household of a sample of villages);
  • visiting the shops to assess if the supply was really effective
  • evaluating what was the real consumption of chlorine
  • testing if the residual of chlorine was good enough to ensure disinfection
  • and observing and quantifying the impact on decrease on diarrheas cases.

The results are quite satisfying, because in brief…

  • 100% of communities continue HHWT, (survey of 64 communities out of 107 in whole Bombali district)
  • 80% of pots have treated water at all times (survey of 340 pots in 29 communities)
  • Introduction of HHWT has a strong positive impact on health in the communities: Prevalence of diarrhea of Children under 5 years drops from 12% to nearly 0% (although these are only global tendencies).
  • Remanence of chlorine and its strength is mostly influenced by the initial quality of water, cleanness of the containers rather than an eventual gap in conditions of storage or the quality of bleach that can be found in the local shops. It also shows that rain water has to be treated as it can be contaminated during collection.

The full study’s report is available on Pratiques website:

Aurélie also a07247e2ecdid a short exhibition to testimony on her mission…see related post

Mapping of the small communities practicing HHWT in 2017 in Bombali

map communities

Mots of small hamlets have been targeted so far in Bombali, the objective is also that communities using temporary water points (that get dry in dry season), join also the strategy, at least for these particular months.

Inter Aide is also collaborating with other partners to introduce this approach in schools and Primary Health Units.

To have more informations on acceptance of the communities, see specific reportpart of an internal evaluation of the HHWT approach (and the testimony of Kamalo Lol community).

Testimony of the village of Kamalo Lol

Aurélie and team visited all shops and communities, here is an extract of the interview conducted with in september 2016 with the community of Kamalo Lol …

Inter Aide – Good morning everybody and thank you for taking time with us. We are workers from Inter Aide and we came to visit you this morning to learn a bit more about your water business. First, could you introduce your village: how many people live there, how many pots does it represent, how many houses…?Kamalo Lol

Chief – Thank you for coming. This is Kamalo Lol community, Sakuma section. The number of people in the village is 70. 14 pots. 7 houses.

IA – Thank you. When did you start this bleach business? How did you hear about it for the first time?

Secretary – checking in his notebook – It has been 3 years now since we started. Inter Aide came to talk to us about this bleach solution. That’s why we started, but we did not know bleach before. Now we know that the “medicine” will kill the germs in the water. And since we started, after the first week of adaptation of our systems, health in the village is much better. Before, we used to have a lot of stomach aches, diarrhoea… now it has been a while since we did not send a child to hospital because of diarrhoea. We tell God thank you for that!

IA – So now, everybody drinks chlorinated water in the community? Is there not some reluctant people?

Chairman – Everybody drinks it, from the youngest child to the oldest pa!

IA – And what about the taste of chlorine in water?

Random villager – It was only hard at the beginning. We needed a few time to get used to it, but now it is fine, we like it. Taste is like “packet water”.

IA – Who is managing this bleach business for the community?

Chairman – We have a water committee for that. We have elected the members ourselves. The women chose the women (Chairlady and female chlorinators), the men chose the men (Chairman and male chlorinators).

IA – Could you introduce those water committee members? Did some members change from the beginning?

Chairman – No, nobody ever changed. We chose the people who would stay in the village and do the job seriously. I am the Chairman, I am responsible for taking step against defaulters and giving some advice to the committee. This is the Chairlady, she keeps the money from the contributions. This is the secretary; he has a book in which he writes all the contributions and the purchases of medicine. Those two men and those two women are the chlorinators. They do the treatment of water for everybody.

IA – Did you receive some material by IA when you started?

Chlorinator – Yes, we received two kits, and for each kit we bought one bottle of chlorine. Two chlorinators go to take the kit in their house and show us the material: 1 bucket, 1 white cloth, 2 syringes, 1 funnel, 1 bleach bottle per kit. And we also received 14 five gallons containers and 14 cups, one for each pot.

IA – How much did you pay for this?

Chairman – The total cost of the chlorination kit is 45,000 Le [NDLR: about 6 EUR], so it makes 90,000 Le for 2 chlorination kit. And each container and cup cost 13,000 Le. But we had an arrangement with Inter Aide: we paid only 25% of the total cost, and Inter Aide contributed for the remaining 75%. So each pot contributed 5,000 Le to reach 68,000 Le. We were in charge of organizing this contribution, and when we were ready, we called Inter Aide, they came to collect the money and then came back to give us the material.

IA, showing the material – The status of the material is good. Is this the material that you received from Inter Aide, or did you have to buy some new ones because it was lost or damaged?

Chlorinator – Yes, we changed the clothes once because they were damaged. We found new ones on the market in Makeni for 7,000 Le each [NDLR: about 1 EUR]. We also had to buy new syringes because children had spoiled them. We found new ones in Kamaranka for 1,000 Le each [NDLR: about 0.15 EUR]. And we also regularly buy new chlorine bottles.

IA – The cloth is very clean…

Chlorinator – Because we laundry it after each use!

IA – May we see where you store the bucket?

Chlorinator – No problem. I keep it in my room, on a table elevated from the ground so that the smaller children can’t reach it.

IA – And which kind of training did you receive from Inter Aide? Somebody can explain us?

Chlorinator – Yes, I can explain. When you have fetched water from the stream, first you wash your hands properly with soap. If you don’t have soap, you can use ashes. You also wash the bucket and the cup. You filter water into the bucket through the white cloth. The woman holds the cloth while the man turns the container. After that, you turn the water back into the container with the funnel. Then you take the syringe, you pull chlorine. 2 mL for each five gallon. You put the medicine in the container, you shake the container, put it on top of a chair or a table and wait for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can drink it. After 2 days, you can’t drink it anymore: you have to use it for another purpose and treat a new one. They also told us about diarrhoea, hand washing, latrines… Everything is explained on the posters pasted on this wall.

IA – Good. And who received the training? Only the four of you?

Chairman – No, everybody witnessed the training. They are the ones who know the best, but everybody in the community has an idea about the treatment.

IA – And how do you organize for doing the treatment for everybody?

Chlorinator – We do it in the morning, every two days. The village is shared into two parts. When people have fetched water from the stream, each part gathers together in one place of the village, and everybody do it together. But the consumption depends on the size of the pot: if one pot has many members and finishes its water before the end of the 2 days, we can go house to house to do the treatment. In dry season also, water consumption is higher.

IA – Is it always the same persons doing the treatment?

Chlorinator – Yes, always the same chlorinators. Every house relies on us for doing it.

IA – And do you receive money for doing this job for the community?

Chlorinator – No! It is a job for well body, not for money. It is a voluntary job for the community.

IA – And how do you manage if one of the chlorinators is absent one day, because he has to travel or doesn’t feel well?

Chairlady – We can always find someone to assist. I am able to assist the chlorinator if one is absent, or even the pot owner can wash his hands and assist the chlorinator. But it seldom happens. The chlorinators take their responsibility seriously.

IA – Does it sometimes happen that one day you have to leave early and you don’t have time to do the treatment?

Chlorinator – No, it never happens. Water treatment is my priority before doing anything else.

IA – And which water did you drink when you go to work on the farm?

Random man – We take small containers (1 gallon) of treated water with us on the farm. If we are many to work together in the same place, we can even take a 5 gallons container. We always do the treatment before going to the farm and nobody leaves the village without treated water.

IA – And this chlorinated water, for which purposes except drinking do you use it?

Random woman – For drinking only! Except after two days: then we use it for cooking, washing…

IA – How do you organize when the chlorine is nearly finished?

Secretary – When the bottles are almost empty, the chlorinators inform us and we take money from the contributions to go buy new ones. We buy by Umoro Soll at Kamaranka, 2 bottles each time.

IA – Did you know Umoro’s shop before Inter Aide gave you his contact for the chlorine?

Random villager – Yes, we already knew it, but we seldom went there for purchases.

IA –How often do you have to buy new bottles? When did you buy a bottle last time?

Secretary, checking in his book – We bought the last bottles two weeks ago. Two bottles last 2 to 3 months in average for the village, and it is pretty stable.

IA – Who is responsible for the purchases? How do you manage to go there?

Chairman – I am responsible for going there for the purchase. It is 4 miles away from here; it takes me about 2 hours to go by foot, 2 hours to come back. We also sometimes send the children because it is on their way to school. They use the card that Inter Aide gave us so that Umoro knows the purpose of their visit.

IA – Have you ever had any issue with the shop in Kamaranka? For example, you needed to buy chlorine but the shop was closed, or they had shortage?

Chairman – Yes, it happened a few times, but when Umoro is not around most of the time he comes back later during the day. When there is shortage, it never lasts more than a few days also. And if we really need chlorine as an emergency, we can also go to another shop in Masactaba junction.

IA – How much does one bottle cost?

Chairman – One bottle costs 6,000 Le [NDLR: about 1 EUR], but Umoro informed us that the price may increase soon.

IA – And how do you manage to find money for this?

Secretary – We organize monthly money contributions at the community level. Each pot gives 500 Le [NDLR: about 0.07 EUR], which makes 7,000 Le each month, and at the end of the two months we have enough money to buy two bottles and 2,000 Le money balance. We also use those money contributions to buy new material (white cloth and syringes). If we have enough money balance, it sometimes happens that we skip the contribution for one month.

IA – Who collects the money?

Secretary – I do, sometimes assisted by the Chairlady. And at the same time I fulfil the notebook. Look at it.Kamalo lol notebook

IA – Do you sometimes have issues among the community, with people who don’t want to pay for this bleach business, or are not able to pay?

Chief – Nobody is reluctant to pay for this, it is an agreement among the community and I make sure that everybody respects the law. It is a life business and everybody wants well body. If one contributor is unable to pay once, somebody will loan money and this person will refund later.

IA – Is it possible to see the water point where you fetch water for drinking?

Everybody – No problem.

We go by foot to the water point. It takes 4 minutes to reach it.2017-07-26_154528

IA – This is where you fetch water for drinking? What about for cooking and washing?

Secretary – We use the same stream, but we go up for drinking, down for washing.

IA – And before Inter Aide’s intervention, you used to drink directly this water?

Secretary – Yes, directly! No filtration, no treatment…

IA – Is this stream dry during dry season?

Secretary – Yes, it gets dry around March, until June. Then we go to another point, much further!

IA – And do you use other water sources?

Secretary – Yes, during rainy season we collect rain water, and we treat it with medicine exactly the same way as stream water. And when we travel to big cities, we have to buy packet water, but it is very expensive.

IA – And do you drink palm wine?

Secretary, laughs – Not everybody, but some of us do. And they don’t do it for water!

IA – And are you globally satisfied with this bleach solution to get safe water?

Secretary – Well, we really struggle during dry season to find water, so we would appreciate a well. But until there, we will continue using this medicine as long as it is available in the shop, because we know that this water will protect us.

Testimony of Mr. Kalabaty, bleach reseller in Laminaya (village of Bombali)

Aurélie and team visited all shops and communities, here is an extract of the interview conducted with Mr Kalabaty in december 2016, shop owner in Laminaya …

Inter Aide : Good morning sir, thank you for taking time to answer our questions. We are workers from Inter Aide and we come to learn more about your bleach business.Mr kalabaty

Mr Kalabaty : No problem, thank you for coming.

IA – First, can you tell us when you started this bleach business?

Mr. K. – Let me check in my book. He goes inside the shop and comes back with a notebook. I started in March 2016, ten months ago.

IA – And why did you start this business?

Mr. K. – Inter Aide first came to see me and talk to me about this bleach business. Before, I only knew chlorine for laundry, I didn’t know it could be used for drinking. Inter Aide gave me 10 bleach bottles and 4 syringes free to sell as a starting kit, and then I went to the supplier to refill. They also gave me this notebook and a pen.

IA – And did you receive any kind of training by Inter Aide at the beginning?

Mr. K. – Yes, they explained me how to record bleach sales in my notebook and how to treat water with chlorine.

IA – Would you be able to explain us how to treat water with chlorine?

Mr. K. – No problem! When you want to treat water with chlorine, first you wash your hands. Then you use a white cloth to filter water, and after filtration you turn it back into the container. Then you take the syringe, you pull 2 mL of chlorine that you put in the container, you shake it and after 30 minutes you can drink. All the steps are explained on the poster that they gave me and that I pasted on this door.

IA – Nice! And do you often have to explain those steps to your customers?

Mr. K. – No, almost never. All customers who come to buy bleach already know how to use it.

IA – Who is your bleach supplier?

Mr. K. – I refill at Foday and Fofanah pharmacy in Makeni, it is the supplier that Inter Aide recommended. He shows us the card. I go there every two to three months.

IA – How much do you buy the bottle there?

Mr. K. – I used to buy it 5,000 Le [NDLR: about 0.66 EUR]. But recently the price increased to 6,000 Le because of increase of price of fuel.

IA – And how much do you sell the bottle in your shop?

Mr. K. – We have an agreement with Inter Aide, I have to keep a low profit so that chlorine remains affordable for the communities. When I buy the bottle 5,000 Le, I sell it 6,000 Le. When I buy it 6,000 Le, I sell it 7,000 Le.

IA – And how many bottles do you sell every month? Is it a good business for you?

Mr. K. – I have sold 24 bottles in 8 months, only 24,000 Le profit! It is not a good business!

IA – So why do you continue?

Mr. K. – It is not a business for profit! I do it to help people in the villages have pure water for drink. The business is small on profit but big on the other hand. I really appreciate this business. Let the people be healthy.

IA – And how much do you sell the syringe?

Mr. K. – I sell it 1,000 Le each.

IA – Have you ever had issues with the supplier in Makeni?

Mr. K. – Except the fact that the price increased recently, no, I have never faced any particular issue with Foday.

IA – And how do you manage for transport to go there?

Mr. K. – The capital from the bleach business is not enough to pay transport for itself, so I buy bleach when I go to Makeni with my personal bike for other purposes. I can also send somebody who would go there for me using this card.

IA – Have you ever experienced shortage in your shop?

Mr. K. – Only once, I had a 3 days shortage between the last sale and the refill. But most of the time, I try to refill before the balance drops to 0: when I have 2 bottles left for example.

IA – And today, if I want to buy a bottle, you have some in stock?

Mr. K. – Yes, I do! I refilled recently, I have 12 bottles currently in my shop. And I also have 2 syringes.

IA – May we see where you store them in your shop?

Mr. K. – No problem. Come in. I keep them here, so that the children can’t reach them.

IA – Do you know which communities are supposed to buy bleach in your shop?

Mr. K. – Yes, Inter Aide gave me the list of the communities supposed to come when I started: One house, Gubayama, Nerehun, Mahindie, Mabaina, Magbankaba and Kagbegbeh. They all effectively come, every 2 to 3 months.

IA – And all the communities who buy bleach are the ones that have been trained by Inter Aide, or do you have some other customers?

Mr. K. – I think only communities from Inter Aide come to buy bleach. They all come with the card that Inter Aide gave them with the address of my shop.

IA – Do you know other resellers who also sell bleach?

Mr. K. – IA gave me with the contacts of all other bleach resellers in the district; the sheet is pasted in the notebook. For example, Umoro Shall in Kamaranka is not far away from here. If I have any issue with this business, I know that I can contact him to ask for help. They also gave me a laminated map, but I did not paste it in my shop yet! Look at my picture on the map!

 IA – A more personal question now… Do you personally treat water with chlorine?

Mr. K. – We are lucky to have a hand-pump in Laminaya where we fetch water for drinking. But I do put chlorine in my private well!

IA – Globally speaking, what are the major issues you are facing with this bleach business? Do you have any idea of how we could improve it?

Mr. K. – As the communities only buy once every two or three months, the business is very slow, and the transport costs are high for a small profit. You should increase advertisement for household water treatment so that more communities come to buy bleach in my shop!

Aurélie and the results of her internship put a nice focus on HHWT in Salone…

Aurélie Moy did an internship of 6 months (September 2016 to February 2017) specifically on the topic of household water chlorination, sharing her time between Kamakwie and Makeni.

The main objectives of the study were:

  1. Assessing the acceptance of HHWT : checking if all communities and all households among them are still treating regularly and buying chlorine, if not why
  2. Evaluating the impact on the health of such option
  3. Understanding how long can last the effect of chlorine and which factors can influence its strength

Main outputs are:

  • 100% of communities continue HHWT, (survey of 64 communities out of 107 in whole Bombali district)
  • 80% of pots have treated water at all times (survey of 340 pots in 29 communities)
  • Introduction of HHWT has a strong positive impact on health in the communities: Prevalence of diarrhoea of Children under 5 years drops from 12% to nearly 0% (although these are only global tendencies).
  • Remanence of chlorine and its strength is mostly influenced by the initial quality of water, cleanness of the containers rather than an eventual gap in conditions of storage or the quality of bleach that can be found in the local shops. It also shows that rain water has to be treated as it can be contaminated during collection


See complete results on the website Pratiques


Aurélie did an exhibition to explain her work and to transmit what were her feelings all along this intense mission.




Some pictures of the exhibition in la Chapelle St Léonard, Croissy-sur-Seine…