Kerr Tubai Solar Powered Water Project – The Gambia

RPCV Mark Wilson continues to do projects with WC long after his COS from the Peace Corps!


Location of Project: Kerr Tubai, North Bank Region, Lower Niumi, The Gambia, West Africa; GPS Coordinates: N13°27.262 W016°26.284


Kerr Tubai is a small community located in the eastern part of Bakindiki. The settlers are from the Fula and Manjago tribes. The one-century-old community is populated by roughly 200 subsistence farmers and traditional cattle herdsmen called “Gainako.” A century ago, Kerr Tubai’s founder migrated from Northern Senegal to the North Bank Region of The Gambia— seeking better farmland and escaping the advancing Sahara Desert. The Sonko clan of Bakindiki gave the village of Kerr Tubai a piece of land to settle on, along with another minority tribe called the Manjagos, who migrated from Guinea Bissau. Side-by-side, both tribes have lived harmoniously ever since. The community has a Lower Basic School, which encourages the community to send its children to their school.


The Kerr Tubai community has only one functional well, which is located at the school. This is the only water point supplying clean drinking water for the entire community. The pressure the community and the school have put on the one water source has led to frequent breakdowns of the hand pump.

In addition, there is one open well, which is contaminated and infested with frogs. At times, the community uses this open well as a drinking point for cattle and other domestic animals. Unfortunately, when the school’s hand pump breaks down, the community is forced to drink from the open well. This has greatly affected community members. Most of the time, to avoid the contaminated water, they drive ox carts to the neighboring village of Bakindiki just to acquire water to drink. This often welcomes harassment from the neighboring community, which also complains that their water source is insufficient for them, let alone for another village as well.


The project will include the following:

Stage 1: Drilling a 4.5-inch borehole at a depth of 60 meters by a reputable drilling outfit. This deep drilling will provide ample flow of clean fresh water all year-round. A high-quality GRUNDFOS solar pump will be installed, along with high-quality monocrystalline solar panels. A 6-meter solid concrete tower, fully braced with galvanized iron bars, will be built and a 5,000-liter triple-coated water storage tank, including a float switch, will be mounted on the solid concrete tower. The borehole drilling outfit will be fully monitored for quality assurance and effective execution of the work, which is covered thereafter by a warranty.

Stage 2: This stage involves the laying of pipes from the water tower to 5 selected water points (taps) in the village. This will be done by a highly trained and reliable plumbing outfit supported by the villagers. Five water points will be erected, which will make water more easily accessible by all villagers. Considering the harsh environmental condition around that area, the pressure pipes and plumbing materials will be of high-quality material.

Final Stage: The final stage of the project will be the construction of a 2.4 meter by 1.5 meter long concrete trough at the current well. The well will be used as a drinking point for livestock. A reliable water point for animals will help with the rearing of ruminants, which will in turn help to reduce poverty and malnutrition in the community. The availability of water for other uses will also allow the community to explore the cultivation of forest gardens, which are proven to raise incomes in subsistence farming communities. This will help ensure water system sustainability and economic support for the community.


The project will be administered by Emily Lundberg, Ph.D., Water Charity Country Director – The Gambia, working with Mike McConnell, Managing Trustee of GambiaRising and former Country Director for Peace Corps in The Gambia, and Ebrima Marong, Water Charity Program Manager.


The community will do all manual work, including digging of trenches and pipe laying, etc. They will also provide gravel, sand, cement, iron rods and the construction of bricks as their contribution. Any other necessary manual labor will be provided by the community. They will also host and feed workers.


Water Charity funds will be used to pay for materials and skilled labor.


A 6-member water management committee has been set up, which consist of serious and dedicated people chosen by the villagers in a meeting held at the village Bantaba (the village square). The selection of the committee members was gender balanced. Mr. Sang Gomez was made head of the water management committee while Binta Jallow was made the assistant head. Training will be conducted for them on the community management model techniques.

A further training workshop will be conducted for them after the completion of the project, to sensitize them on the importance of taking good care of the entire water system and taps in order to maintain durability. The selected water committee members will be visiting taps regularly on every street to check that each is working properly.

It was strongly agreed at the same meeting that a bank account will be opened by the village water committee, with three mandatory signatories; every month, each compound head will pay a token into the account, where the collected monies will be saved for future maintenance and repair.

The committee will be transparent and audited in their financial transactions, reporting monthly to the villagers at the Bantaba (village square) in a meeting to be coordinated by the Alkalo (village head Mr. Kebba Sowe). By way of this governance mechanism, the community will maintain a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Three people have been identified to be in charge, to monitor, and to control the solar-powered water borehole system after the completion of the project; this will avoid water system amateurs from tinkering with the water system. The borehole drilling outfit will train these three identified community members on proper usage of the water system and how to report to them if there is any problem.

The current water source (the open well) will be developed by building a concrete trough purposely used for providing water for livestock, garden purposes, and so on. This will enable safe usage of water for multiple purposes and will also prolong the life of the borehole freshwater system.

Water Charity Program Manager Ebrima Marong will visit the community regularly to verify that the system is working as it should, as well as to check that the water management committee is working effectively.


Despite the tremendous pressure and hardship faced by the community in terms of water, they are still willing to send their children to school—especially their school-age girls. The headmaster of the school outlined the challenges of girl’s education, indicating a lack of concentration and a general tiredness of girls, which he attributed to girls’ duties fetching water. This has disturbed their academic performance, resulting in some school dropouts. This project will help address that challenge, allowing girls to concentrate and remain in school.


This project has been funded by Mark Wilson and T-Mobile, with matching funds from Water Charity. If you like this project, please Donate so that we have funds on hand for future projects in The Gambia.


For Kerr Tubai, we dug a borehole and built a solar-powered water pumping, storage, and distribution system. As always, we installed a Grundfos high-quality solar power submersible pump. We built a 6-meter high concrete tower mounted with a 5,000-liter triple-layer polyethylene water tank, and laid piping for 5 taps.

Check out a short movie about Kerr Tubai’s Water System Completion: