Archive for ‘Sierra Leone’

October 15, 2014

Global Hand washing day

Global Hand washing day

WASH Media Network joins the world over to mark this day

By Mustapha Sesay

Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

Today is Global Hand Washing Day, a day set aside by the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday October 15, 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, and Global Hand-washing Day, which stresses the need to reinforce call for improved hygiene practices.
In the light of the above, Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone, a member of the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network (a sub regional organization) , is joining the Water Integrity Network, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborating Council, IRC and West Africa Water Aid to observe this day.
As schools are yet to re-open for the start of the 20142015 Academic year, WASH Media Network members will be out to some of the communities in Freetown and in the provincial areas to continue reaffirming the significance of holding fast to the correct methods of washing hands and the its vital place to the health of the children.
It must be noted that most of the diseases that affect children are related to the poor environment and bad sanitation practices in our homes or communities countrywide. One among the outstanding odd health practices is that doing with children not washing hands before partaking of any food. This has continued to offer place to cholera and dysentery among the common diseases in record. Added to this issue is the fact that most children including adults find it difficult to use water and soap after visiting the toilet.
The ramification of this bad health practice could not be unconnected to the 2012 Cholera outbreak in the country, which started in the Northern part of Sierra Leone and spread across its regions within two months. That period heightened the need to wash hands with soap as that was among the primary preventive methods since Cholera itself is water borne.
Shanty towns and slum communities were among the places that suffered the brunt of the 2012 Cholera outbreak.
Unfortunately, few months after the outbreak, people neglected the significance of washing hands with soap after taking part in any activity. This negligence went on until it was officially announced in May that Ebola had broken out in the country and that it expedient that people reverse to the traditional hand-washing method since the Ebola virus is a contagious disease.
While the number of those who believe in the reality of Ebola has increased considerably, however, there is still sparks of remote cases of those who deny its existence and refrain from following the laid down health rules.
Meanwhile, hand washing is paramount to a healthy society and it is on this note that October 15th has been set aside to reflect on responsiveness of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
With the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Sub-region, school authorities in the region would use this opportunity to teach millions of children about this day. School authorities and parents must also ensure that water and soap are always at strategic positions for members to wash their hands.
Let’s keep Cincinnati healthy by becoming Champion Handwashers! As an expert rightly said, “Clean hands save lives”, a driving theme for Global Handwashing Day. Children should continue to act as agents of change, taking the good practices of hygiene learned at school back into their homes and communities.

September 1, 2014

Free town Peninsula Community benefits from Hybrid Electrification Plant

By Mustapha Sesay, Water &Sanitation Media Network S/L

Energy supply is a key to the socio-economic development of any community or state.

In many developing countries, many depend on either Hydro power electrification or thermal plant.

It is a new concept in the minds of most people to talk of a hybrid plant using both water supply in the rains and solar plant in the dry season to provide electricity supply for community people especially in remote or rural areas.

In Sierra Leone, one area along the Freetown Peninsular that can now boast of this new development is the No. 2 River Community.

Despite the poor status of the road network to getting to this area, it is a tourist resort centre, nice beaches, vegetation and a lot of water shed to keep the turbines in operation.

water

Prior to the develop of this hybrid electrification plant, the Pioneers Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH

It is in this drive that Welt Hunger Heilf WHH undertook a study on the identification of over sixty water sheds along the Freetown Peninsula and the need to preserve them for the sustainability of water supply to the western urban and rural district.

With the collaboration of the European Union and other organization, one of the watershed was developed and protected to provide pipe born water supply for the No. Two River Community.

With more potentials for this community, Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH strived very hard to ensure that most communities benefit from rural power electrification and water supply.

Tuesday, 5th August, 2014 witnessed another milestone for this community as they were the first in the country to witness the commissioning of a Hybrid Electrification plant that will supply twenty hours of electricity during the Rainy and Dry Seasons.

This remarkable development was graced by the Energy Minister and Deputies, development partners, tribal heads and dignitaries,.

As a sign of gratitude for bringing development to their community, the Head of No. 2 River. Abu Bakraa Turam Conteh commended Welt Hunger Hilfe, the European Union, the Government and all who in diverse ways have contributed towards the completion of the project and prayed that more would be done so as to sustain and extend the project to other communities.

Mr. Conteh further revealed that the development of energy technology plays an important role in the drive towards self sufficiency and called on the people to embrace the development at their doorstep.

The Country Director for Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH Jochen Moniger said in 2011, the project started with the identification of watersheds so as to facilitate the supply of water to the communities.  With much improvement, the organization later saw the need to work out modalities for the provision of electricity supply.

With the commitment of the people work progressed on a sound footing as they were always prepared to render valuable services at all times.

The Hybrid Electrification is one of the best of its kind. During the Dry Season, the Solar plant generates electricity for the people of Number Two River as the water level drops considerably while in the Rainy Season, it is the opposite, the mini hydro-plant  generates twenty hours of electricity for the people.

He further stressed that as a way of sustaining the project, the people must be prepared to secure prepared meters and pay their bills so that the money would be spent on running and maintenance cost.

With the new hybrid power plant in operation now, this would help promote developmental programmes within the No Two River community, facilitate the efforts of the children to study at home, halt the noise generators have been making in the neighbourhood and even the black smoke they ooze.

As a sea side resort, this would help promote tourism in the area and this in turn would boost the employment of youths and facilitate trade opportunities.

Special commendation was made to the European Union funded project for intervening in the water supply system for drinking and other purposes.

The Minister of Energy Mr. Thomas  Macauley commended Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH and partners for such a laudable venture as it is in line with the vision of President Koroma to ensure that electricity is visible in all parts of the country.

According to him, the commissioning  of the Hybrid Electrification plant at No Two River signified the good work of the organization as without light, development would be at a standstill.

The Minister admonished all to reflect on the prominent role of light in our societies, namely its importance in the hospitals, factories, industries, our homes, the internet, communication and several other aspects.

The Energy Minister went on to state that it is but fitting that a similar projects are replicated in various parts of the country.

With the commissioning  of the Hybrid Electrification project by the Minister, a tour was made to the plant facilities where both the hydro plant and the Solar plant were inspected.

This was followed by a demonstration of the new plant supplying the township with light that was embraced by the people.

According to Moses Kamara, a Cinema Operator, this is one of the opportunities they have been longing for as it would help to curtail the fuel shortage that had adversely hit their business. He hoped that with this development, customers at his cinema would now get the much needed satisfaction, more so when international matches are being played.

Marie Cole, a trader praised Welt Hunger Heilf WHH and all the partners that have contributed towards the growth and development of their community.

We must noted that Sierra Leoneans in the south and eastern part of the country use to boast of the Dodo Dam that provided electricity in the rains while the Bo-Kenema Power Station provided electricity during the dries. Today, this glory is lost as people in that part of the country are married to ‘BLACKOUT’

ONE major reason for the drop in the water supply is the destruction of the watershed or catchment areas for timber and other purposes.

In the city of Freetown, the struggle for water continues as the Guma Valley Dam and other catchment areas continue to suffer from extensive deforestation.

In a situation where stringent measures are not put in place, most of the watershed areas would be destroyed and this would affect the supply of hydro electricity and water supply to most communities.

 

May 22, 2014

Zambia hosts first African Water Integrity Learning Summit

By Mustapha Sesay, Water & Sanitation Media Network S/L    

AS a way of working towards an “Accelerating Water Secure World, the Water Integrity Network has concluded its first African Water Integrity workshop in Zambia Lusaka from 29-30 April,2014.

Through partnership with ECOWAS, EAC-Lake Victoria Basin Commission and SADC, the programmed trained around 500 water professionals.

This first African Water Integrity Summit brought together 90 experts and stakeholders from 22 African countries

and 30 in total, to share their experiences, lessons learned and identify integrity challenges as we move forward.

To build a water secure future for all, the summit finds

Header-WI-Summit-web

Stakeholders across the regions have successfully pioneered initiatives for more integrity, sometimes in the face of strong resistance. Their courageous actions have created visible improvements for the benefit of their communities and societies at large. Decision-makers at the highest level should take note of their successes, demonstrate clear commitment

to the promotion of water integrity, support integrity ambassadors and ensure that anti-corruption policies are developed, and effectively implemented. Condemning corruption in public is not sufficient when implementation and enforcement of rules is neglected, undermined or obstructed at the same time.

The challenges posed by depleting water resources are; fast population growth and urbanization, rapid destruction of productive aquatic ecosystems and climate change all threaten to overwhelm water management systems. Managing and maintaining the integrity of water resources is part and parcel of managing water with integrity.

 

As water is a fundamental resource for sustainable development. It is essential to economic growth, to eradicate poverty, to secure water, food and energy for a rapidly growing population and sustaining ecosystems for future generations. In most countries, water crises are not due to resource scarcity but primarily due to governance failures. Fragmented institutions obstruct accountability

in a sector with high investment and aid flows, making it particularly vulnerable to corruption. Lack of water-related integrity

incurs huge cost for societies, in lives lost, stalling growth, wasted talent and degraded resources. There is no sustainability without integrity.

The extent of the African water challenge was summarized in AMCOW’s 2012 snapshot: 344 million people in Africa rely on unimproved water sources. Corruption drains billions from the water sector, while more than 300 million people in sub Saharan.

Africa live in water-scarce environments and 115 people die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water.

In 2000, the African Water Vision 2025 named inappropriate governance and institutional arrangements as one core ‘human threat’ to sustainable water management: The vision called for fundamental changes in policies, strategies and institutional arrangements, for the adoption of participatory approaches, as well as for openness, transparency and accountability in decision making processes. The importance of good water governance has been recognized in the preparations of the Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs), in numerous international and regional declarations and conventions, as well as in stakeholder for a including the 6th World Water Forum, the Water Integrity Forum 2013 and the OECD Water Governance Initiative.

The UNDP-Water Governance Facility together with its partners UNDP Cap-Net, WaterNet, WIN and SIWI, implemented the 3-year Regional Capacity Building Programme promoting and developing water integrity in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2011-2014.

Ongoing water reforms in many countries and regions in Africa offer a unique opportunity to improve the integrity of

the water sector. Poverty and vulnerability to corruption are fundamentally linked; and integrity is a condition for financially viable and sustainable water service delivery. Therefore, water security, poverty eradication and economic growth can only be achieved if water policies go hand in hand with promoting integrity. Water integrity should be mainstreamed

in all sector policies and institutions, in legislation, regulation at various levels, in investment projects and

programmes, and in business models in water service provision. Organizations, including our own, need to consider water integrity in the development of organizational policies, strategies and action plans

Participation of informed stakeholders and a strong civil society are driving forces for change towards integrity. Water governance has to be inclusive, actively carry the debate to weak stakeholders, and address the opportunities and challenges that come with the inclusion of the private sector. Data and information should be freely accessible, understandable and usable, as the basis of transparency and accountability. Clear results frameworks and integrity indicators need to be developed to support both decision making, and to monitor integrity levels. Basic standards of financial management and accounting should be required and enforced by all donors and fund providers as a condition for their support.

The lack of integrity reflects a multi-dimensional capacity gap across all African regions: gaps in basic skills and capacities of local communities, needed for meaningful participation, in professional skills for informed decision making and efficient service delivery, and in technical skills for dedicated integrity professionals tasked with developing organizational frameworks, enforcing rules and building organizational cultures. Beyond personal capacities, institutional capacities present a significant bottleneck and hamper the ability of national and regional bodies to effectively coordinate their efforts. Investment in capacity development is required across all levels, for communities, policy-makers, administrators, water professionals and the private sector. The momentum created by the regional capacity development programme should be translated into a sustained movement and expanded to neighboring regions.

Integrity challenges go beyond corruption. Integrity affects water governance in terms of who gets what water, when

and how. Lack of integrity undermines how costs and benefits are distributed among individuals, society and the environment.

It also increases transaction cost, and discourages appropriate investment in infrastructure. Procedures that ensure integrity are not for free; continuous communication of rights and processes to stakeholders is critical to enforce rules in big investment projects, as is real-time monitoring of infrastructure to uncover problems. But investments in integrity can reap high returns in improved revenues, efficiency gains, increased investment and growth.Regional bodies are well placed to act as drivers of change; raising awareness; linking and harmonizing efforts across regions; support capacity development, and nourish political will in member countries. They play a critical role in advocating

for the inclusion of water integrity in international and regional fora, including AMCOW, the 7th World Water Forum, and the international consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Future capacity development efforts should also include regional technical agencies and implementing bodies such as regional development banks, transboundary river basin organizations and regional courts.

The costs of inaction are too high to remain passive. The Summit and its partners call on governments, regional bodes and international organizations, the corporate sector and civil society to promote water integrity. The regional programme has laid the groundwork for capacities in the regions; now the momentum created by the first generation of African water integrity ambassadors need to be maintained, sustained and nourished, and build upon to ensure a water secure world for all.

Lusaka.

April 12, 2014

Freetown Water Sector in Coma: Who will remedy the situation?

By Mustapha Sesay, WASH Journalists Network S/L

Whilst our politicians are busy with sugar coated words on improving the water sector, the actual picture on the ground about water service delivery in the capital is bleak and until urgent measures are put in place, the city will one day wake up to find that all the taps have finally run dry.

Making an on the spot visit to the various dams and treatment sites that provide drinking water to the capital city and its environs by a team of Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change (CAW-SL) headed by Charles Mambu, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staff of the Water Sector and the Media on 13/3/2014, one was astonished to find massive deforestation along the catchment areas, encroachment on the land for construction of houses and mining activities, pollution and the drying up of the sugar loaf dam – signals that the water sector is in a bad state.

 

Even though staff of the Guma Valley Water Company are advancing excuses that the dam was built a hundred years ago for a population of five hundred people, there are reasons for putting strategies in place to cater for the growing population.

 

The road network to the various dams and water treatment plants are not only steep and rugged but a death trap to most vehicles.

It must be noted that the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to the uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities in the Peninsular. Such activities include the use of the power saw machines for the cutting of trees and other vegetation around the demarcated forest reserves. the burning of wood for charcoal, construction of dwelling places, illegal sale of land, and mining construction at quarries by multi national companies.

The ability of the water agencies to continue supplying water is seriously undermined as a result of the exposure of the water dam to direct sunlight; this in return is a serious threat to the supply of water to the growing population in the city and its environs

At the Guma Valley catchment sites, the dam that supplies most areas in the city of Freetown, the old pipes directly linking the city with water services are not only old and exposed to rust but now subjected to wild bush fires ignited by those clearing the encroached land for various construction purposes.

Just by the gate, most of the areas have been cleared for vegetable garden and fire wood.

At the actual dam sites there is a drop in the water level.

Upon investigation, neither the staff of the water company, Lands officials nor the Foresters were in a position to state who was actually responsible for the deforestation or encroached of the catchment areas.

At the Babadorie dam at Hill Station that supplies water to the Mountain Rural areas and some parts of the west end of the city and Pademba Road, the situation is very alarming as the dam is not only unprotected but partly dried up.

I was informed by staff of the water company that before now two dams, namely the Tacugama  Dam and the Sugar Loaf, have been supplying water to the Babadorie treatment plant for the Mountain Road areas.

Today, the Sugar Loaf Dam is dried up and even the Tacugama Dam is supplying water at snail’s pace, resulting in a drastic drop in the supply of water to the mountain rural areas and most areas in the city

The structures and ashes from the massive bushfires around the dams and treatment plants are dangerous to the survival of the plant.

 

There is all the possibility for the houses overlooking the dam at Babadorie easy to contaminate the water as a result of the poor sewage facilities closely built to the dam.

Though staff of the water company are very quick to tell the public that plans are on the way to very soon construct new dams to address the poor water service delivery in the city that is almost housing two million people, the proposed site is currently facing challenges of encroachment and the building of houses.

One thing that stands out clearly in all this is that the masses continue to be denied access to affordable and quality drinking water while the wealthy and highly placed in the society continue to receive supplies of water from the Guma Valley Buzzers.

To the encroachers what matters is getting land at all cost and depriving the majority from getting water by building around the catchment areas.

At the Tacugama dam at Regent – Grafton, poor road network has isolated this area exposing it to all forms of activities that are drying up the dam at an alarming rate.

If with what is ongoing in the wetlands and catchment areas are not of concern to the water ministry.

Today our water sector continues to be in a state of Coma as a result of the following challenges.

Stakeholders in this sector are not in a position to give the actual picture of the demise of our water service delivered to the masses, more so when such places are isolated and dangerous places.

Their messages are always “we will soon improve on the water service delivery as we have signed contracts with partners”.

There is a lack of coordination among the staff of the water sector, foresters, lands and security agencies in protecting the catchments and land around the dams.  As a result of this, influential personalities are using this opportunity to grab land indiscriminately.

It is very difficult to see demarcated zone in these places. Punitive measures have not been instituted like the demolishing of structures or the imposition of heavy fines as a deterrent to others.

If we are to see a remedy of this dismal situation the following must now be put in place.

The security officers operating in these areas must be increased and empowered to arrest all those engaged in illegal activities.

There should be mass demolition of all houses around the catchment and forest reserved areas.

The officials of the water sector must give out regularly the correct picture of the status of the water system to the public.

There should also be massive education of the public on the adverse effects of encroachment and deforestation of our reserved forest areas and wetlands.

If Freetown is to address the issue of water scarcity, it is now time to protect and preserve our water catchment areas, construct new dams and embark on massive awareness campaign on the effects of man’s activities on the environment.

April 12, 2014

WATER SCARCITY TO HIT FREETOWN AS SUGAR LOAF DAM DRIES UP

BY Mustapha Sesay 

The current status of the water service delivery in the city of Freetown will become acute if urgent measures are not put in place to halt the massive encroachment of land in the catchment areas.

A team from the Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change, the Deputy Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Staff of Guma Valley Water Company, SLAWACO, Staff of the Forestry Division, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Media made a visit on Thursday, 13th March, 2014 to dams and treatment sites.

The visit to the Guma Valley Water Company, Tacugama reservour and the Babadorie sites was to get firsthand information on the environmental hazards plaguing our catchment areas.

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

It must be noted that the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to the uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities in the Peninsular. Such activities include the use of the power saw machines for the cutting of trees and other vegetation around the demarcated forest reserves. the burning of wood for charcoal, construction of dwelling places, illegal sale of land, and mining construction at quarries by multi national companies.

The ability of the water agencies to continue supplying water is seriously undermined as a result of the exposure of the water dam to direct sunlight; this in return is a serious threat to the supply of water to the growing population in the city and its environs.

At the Guma Valley catchment and Babadorie reservoir it was alarming to note that a massive construction of dwellings is ongoing and not only on state land and this exposes the pipes to adverse conditions. The Babadorie Reservoir is far below the water level as the Sugar Loaf Water Reserve is dried up and cannot supply water to the dam.

At Tacugama , it was also note that the water level cannot serve the majority of the populace if steps are not taken to remedy the situation.

Addressing the delegation, the Guma Valley Boss Mr. Bankole Mansaray extended his gratitude for embarking on a campaign to create awareness on the destruction caused by human activities to the Freetown Peninsular with the view that policymakers and communities take the required steps to halt the envirommental hazards.

The Head of the Environmental Protection Agency Madam Jatou Jallow stressed that water is life and a natural gift. It should be protected at all times and our duty is to raise the awareness to stop the encroachment on the catchment areas and ensure that pure water is available to Sierra Leoneans. She further recommended for very tough action to be taken against all those erection structures on the water catchment sites.

If Freetown is to address the issue of water scarcity, it is now time to protect and preserve our water catchment areas, construct new dams and embark on massive awareness campaign on the effects of man’s activities un the environment,

April 12, 2014

Corruption in the Water Sector

 

By Mustapha Sesay, West Africa Water Integrity Ambassador

The high rate of corruption in the Water Sector continues to have devastating effects on the lives of the deprived and marginalized communities in developing countries to the point that many die from either contamination or water related diseases.

According to the Program Manager for Water Integrity Network in Sweden Mr. James Laten, the past ten years had witnessed a period in which over thirty billion dollars US$ 30 billion fund invested in the Water Sector in developing countries go into wrong hands.

If we are to make a reverse of this dismal situation where the billions of dollars invested in the water sector is reflected in the lives of the ordinary person, there is the need to put mechanism in place to monitor water projects at all stages and heads of water institutions give account of how funds are utilized.

Today, we hears of billion of bilateral contracts signed, extravagant talk shows  and radio programmes on plans to improve  the water sector but at the end of the day, the water situation is either dismal or remains the same

How long must this situation continue where the wealthy and those highly placed in society enjoy and access pure and safe drinking tap water leaving the majority of the poor community to trek miles for just a bucket of water?  When will the deprived and marginalized on the hill top areas, the slums, camps and remote villages say “we too can now boast of pure drinking water?

When will our politicians stand by their manifestos by providing pure and affordable drinking water for their subjects?

Every day, millions are dying slowly as a result of lack of accessing pure drinking water.  At some point in time,
Governments in various places tend to shift the blame on the masses and on the other hand the masses shift the blame on the Government for not meeting its responsibilities.

The issue of accessing pure and affordable water is a fundamental human right but this is not given the much needed attention.

Corruption in the water sector is ripe and involves all classes of people ranging from the ordinary man, politicians, Heads of Water Institutions and even Non-Governmental organizations working in this sector.

Report on “Corruption in the water sector” by Water Integrity Network in a book titled “Training Manual on Water Integrity” states that in the sub-Sahara Africa, forty-four percent (44 %) of the countries are unlikely to attain the Millennium Development Goal target for drinking water eighty-five percent (85%) are unlikely to attain the sanitation aspect.

Estimate by the World Bank report suggests that twenty –forty percent (20 – 40% ) of water sector finances are being lost to dishonest practices.

Talking about corrupt practices in the water sector there are lots of reference points to make in the case of Sierra Leone.   As a result of greed and selfishness, we today tend to embark on the following activities that in turn affect the effective operation of the water service delivery system.

The process of awarding contracts for the implementation of water service delivery projects, too much concentration of water programmes in the cities rather than the rural areas even though they too are paying taxes to the Government,

Refusal to pay for water rate bills regularly to the water sector, Removal of pipes or water facilities machines parts for sale as scrap metal. Substandard projects by some contractors and the lack of transparency and accountability by some authorities and the marginalization of certain areas that already have water service delivery structures only to be rehabilitated but due to certain unknown reasons, the inhabitations continue to go for years without pipe born water and the proliferation of water industries operated in the houses of most people.

It must be noted that Kambia District is a melting pot in the country as people from all parts of the country and neighbouring Guinea converge to do a weekly trade activity. As a result of this, there is the need for a sound sanitation practise and access to pure drinking water so as to avoid the outbreak of cholera. Unfortunately when this was not adhered to, it was a breeding ground for the spread of cholera that affected the lives of many people in the country.

Kambia District, with a population (2010) of about 308,929 (Statistics Sierra Leone), has the lowest percentage (27%) of households with improved source of drinking water in the Northern region and below the national average (57%). There are 992 protected water points in the district, out of which only 549 are functional. Of the 443 non functional water points, 106 are partially damaged, while 270 are completely broken down. These non functional wells are mostly as a result of the lack of maintenance or a defined strategy of sustaining the operations of the water points.

 

One major excuse advanced last year was that some of the inhabitant refused the payment of Le 15,000 (Fifteen Thousand Leone) monthly water rate bill per household and that almost halted the effective operations of JICA & Sierra Leone Water project.
In Moyamba District, Kori Chiefdom Taiama, water infrastructure that had been abandoned for almost twenty years is slowly becoming a zone for scrap metals as youths are seen either climbing the tanks, the machine rooms to grab whatever they could.

Kori Chiefdom hosts the oldest provincial University in the country; Njala University  yet, access to pure and affordable drinking pipe born water is a dream to be actualized. In morning, it is survival of the fittest to get water from boreholes or wells with hand pumps.

In the city of Freetown, the search for pure and affordable water has forced many to embark on unhealthy practices at the detriment of the little water delivery service.

Though the Government intends to shift the low water service delivery in the city to the pressure on the Guma Valley Dam,  to many this is not acceptable as there are other quality dam around the city that must have been developed to supply other parts of the city. Most people who cannot get the flow of the Guma Valley water to their respective communities in the east or mountainous places cut pipes to scoop water whilst others embark on illegal connections.

It is hearts bleeding that long lines are visible around a single pipe born tap and many spent hours without getting water.  At these points, illegal fees from buckets or gallons on the grounds that the money is used for cleaning the tap.

In mountainous region of the city, precisely Allen Town or the Wilberforce area, community bore holes exist which are controlled by certain individual for which a minimum sum is paid.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that the locals lack the contents of chemicals to clean the water wells or improve on the status.

With regards to substandard work or political influence, some organizations working on the construction of water wells are under pressure to select areas closer to the houses of traditional authorities rather than looking out for ideal sites that will maintain water throughout the year.  With such poor judgment, politically influenced or substandard wells do not survive the retention of water in the dry season as a result they wells are not up to the task for which they were constructed.

Although the Acting Director of Sierra Leone Water Company SLWACO Mr. Bangura disclosed to one local media of development in the water sector, this has not still change the dismay situation of the masses as millions continue spend the rest of the day scouting for water in the city not to mention those in the remote areas of the country

The lack of access to pure water supply is still a major concern especially in the in the eastern parts of Freetown where it is either you are up till 12pm or 4am to get water. Thunder Hill is one of the most deprived communities with children abandoning their schools in search of water by using wooden trolleys to secure water on commercial basis.

Alpha Kamara, the caretaker of the Pompidou Ground well in kissy, in an interview revealed that access to pure water is still a major problem at Thunder Hill as the Pompidou Ground Well is serving hundreds of residents on a daily basis from various communities including Lowcost, Brima Lane, Portee, and Jollah Terrace among others, being the only source of water during the dry season. He nevertheless cited the poor sanitary state of the well, noting that some residents use it for drinking purposes which has a negative impact on their health.

The statement of “ we have signed contacts with companies and plans to construct modern water facilities in various parts of the country is not a news to us so we want action now.

We have already commenced a crucial period in the year, the Dry season that will witness the drying up of streams and rivers so what is the Ministry of Water Resources going to do to address this situation?

 

 

January 19, 2013

Access to clean and safe water is a big problem for rural communities in the North

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya with fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network and partnership from WaterAid, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

It is the end of the rainy season and the soil keeps drying and water losing on it. This is marking the start of the struggle to get clean and affordable drinking water for communities in remote areas of Sierra Leone. Children and their mothers are greasing up their feet and stretching up their heads to start searching for any source of water they can set eyes on for their domestic uses.

As part of a fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network, I traveled 248km North of Sierra Leone to get an information on how rural communities are coping up to access safe and clean water in their localities. On my arrival at Kamabala in the Tonkoh Limba Chiefdom of Kambia District, the situation is very much appalling seeing community of more than 7000 people struggling to fetch water from a more deplorable water source dug by an 18 year old village boy.

Clean and affordable water is now regarded as a great commodity by the international community. A 2007 statement from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights states that “it is now time to consider access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, defined as the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to a sufficient amount of safe drinking water for personal and domestic uses—drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation and personal and household hygiene—to sustain life and health. States should prioritize these personal and domestic uses over other water uses and should take steps to ensure that this sufficient amount is of good quality, affordable for all and can be collected within a reasonable distance from a person’s home.”

Madam Fudia Conteh scooping water for their domestic use in Kamabala Village. She is one of the many rural women in the North that suffers to get clean and safe drinking water for their homes

Madam Fudia Conteh scooping water for their domestic use in Kamabala Village. She is one of the many rural women in the North that suffers to get clean and safe drinking water for their homes

The statement above is not the real situation for rural communities in Sierra Leone. The water source for the Kamabala community was dug below the Bamboo canes and located down a hilly route from the village. There is no electricity to help purify water in major provincial communities in the country and digging a well in Bamboo trees like this will certainly help get natural coldness of water for the community. A visit and sit of half an hour made me to see more than 100 women and children struggling to fetch water in the well.

The distance is about 200 meters from the last house in the community and during the raining season, all the debris and filthy including human wastes from the community are transported to this downstream valley. The dung beetles are rolling balls of human feces whilst the flies are dancing around and singing praises to a child who has just deposited some human wastes about 5 feet from the water well.

The local water-village-savior, Sieh M Dumbuya attending the Wesleyan Secondary School, Kamabala has been searching for water points during the past years and “when I discovered that people have started to suffer for clean and affordable water, I came to this water-find which I believe will serve a long way this year” he said. All residents in the Kamabala Community depend on this water for both their drinking and domestic use as confirmed by Sieh and the Chief of the community. Sieh said he dug the well so that he can save the health problem of the community.

Even the school going children like Rugiatu get the taste of water shortage in Kamabala, Northern Sierra Leone

Even the school going children like Rugiatu get the taste of water shortage in Kamabala, Northern Sierra Leone

A 45 year old Fudia Conteh said “this water source will soon dry up and after such; we will start to fetch water at the tap provided through the assistance of a local NGO in the district.

But all these taps are not reliable for the community. The Banekeh River is dividing Kambia and Bombali Districts and it is also flowing North of Kamabala settlement. When the tap water and some major water source in the community dry up, the only source for the women at the peak of the dry season is to walk a distance of 4km to get water for their homes. “Even if you want to cook or drink, you must walk this distance to get water or else you stay with none” the 45 year old Fudia said. She said “the water is not clean but it is the only source which has been keeping us alive for the past thirty years”.

A 25 year old house wife, Sallaymatu Kargbo also confirmed that there is no other means of getting clean water for the community and because of this situation they must adopt to the water system. They are used to drinking red-dish water in the community with no official health problem reported from them. “We have no way to do” she said.

School going Children in the Kamabala Community will first fetch water for their parents in the morning and probably wash their mouths at the water well before they can think of going for their schooling on week days. If they try to avoid such task for a day, they will be meted with a lesson that they will never forget in their life time. “I fetch water before going to school and after school also” a class 4 school pupil said.

The official service providers for water supply in Sierra Leone are the government owned Guma Valley Water Company in Freetown and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) and the Local Councils. With a new decentralization policy, embodied in the Local Government Act of 2004, responsibility for water supply in areas outside the capital city was passed from the central government to local councils.

Official reports at the Sierra Leone Water Company indicates that as of 2012, SALWACO only provides piped water in Lungi in the Port Loko District, Makeni in the Bombali District, Bo and Kenema districts and was in the process of providing for residents in part of Pujehun and Koinadugu Districts. Officials at the SALWACO and Local Council in Kambia out of anonymity revealed that there is yet no ways for providing pipe-borne water in many major towns of Kambia District, not to mention of smaller ones. The Water Company is supposed to transfer water service provision to Local Councils and this has not happened so far because of little capacity to do so.

There are still many people in the world that still do not have sufficient access to safe drinking water. Official United Nations report indicates that about 884 million people don’t have access to clean water of which about 340 million people live in Africa.

Globally and on a daily basis, 200 million hours of women’s time is used in fetching water and official statements indicate that this leaves them extremely vulnerable.

Results also highlight that 3.6 million people die annually from water-related diseases. Sub-Saharan countries only store 4% of their annual renewable flows. Compare to 70-90% in developed countries. In Sierra Leone, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has just separated the Ministry of Energy from the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources to further responsible for water and sanitation policy in the country.

With the unavailability of plastic and bottled water supply in the rural town of Kamabala, it is not yet clear when these rural women will stop drinking red colored water that has great potential of making them and their children get sick.

Besides the fact of the government Sierra Leone’s key and importance role towards ensuring clean and affordable water for its citizens in the country, sons of the soil of Kamabala may come in for assistance towards this trend. The town itself is a producer of prominent descendants presently living in the city with some working and holding vital positions at the University of Sierra Leone and the National Revenue Authority but they hardly come back to the village and help to the water or whatever assistance the Community may need.

Definitely and most certainly, if all these personalities come out and start mobilizing to save their Community, the crisis the Kamabala is facing will obviously be a thing of the past one day and rural women will breathe a sigh of relief.

Written by Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya with fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network and partnership from WaterAid, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. Email: kindamadumbuya@yahoo.com, Mobile: +23276897169

 

 

January 19, 2013

$8 million Water Project: 300 taps for Kambia

By Mustapha Sesay, Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone

Residents of Kambia Town, northern Sierra Leone have commended the Government of Sierra Leone for providing them with pipe -born water after forty years to address the acute shortage of water and reduce the spread of water born diseases.

The Kambia Water Supply Project was made possible through a grant -aid from the people of Japan as a token of friendship and corporation to the tune of eight million dollars through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).

ALWACO and JICA Officials testing some of the  taps in Kambia Town

ALWACO and JICA Officials testing some of the taps in Kambia Town

Officers of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), the Contractor of the Kambia Water Supply Project Dai Nippon Construction Japan and the Consultants from Eight-Japan Engineering Consultants Incorporated have ended a working visit to the completed Kambia Water Supply Project, installed distribution network and staff quarters.

Briefing the delegation the SALWACO Kambia District Engineer Yankuba Tarawalley said the Kambia water supply project is now ready for use by the local authorities.

He said the source of water for the Kambia Water Supply Project is the Kollenten River, which provides a treated water of 1,200 cubic meters of water per day to an elevated tank of 400 cubic meters.

The SALWACO Engineer said the project constructed three hundred taps of one hundred stand post at a distance of 100 meters range, he added that the 2,300 household have also been registered to enable them benefit from the pipe born water.

 The JICA project Manager Kazumi Matsuda said the Kambia water treatment plant and its distribution network has state of the art technologies that ensure the delivery of safe drinking water to households.

He said the treatment plant has an automated system that diagnosis faults on the machinery as local staff will also be trained on the use and maintenance of the Kambia water supply facilities to ensure sustenance of the project.

The Ag. Director General of SALWACO Victor Hastings Spaine after a conducted tour of the facilities said the Kambia Water Supply Project is one of the best in the country and calls on Kambia residents to embrace the project.

He said SALWACO will provide seed money for the commencement of water distribution within the Kambia Township for a period of three months and called on the Kambia Local Council and the water management Board to support the project.

The Ag. Director General of SALWACO Victor Hastings Spaine also stated that his company will also provide technical and managerial assistance towards the Kambia water supply project and also promised to construct toilet facilities within the project site.

The Chairman of the Kambia Water Supply and Sanitation Board Ibrahim S. Njai said the people of Kambia have not received pipe born water for the past forty years and assured that the water project will be sustained for the benefit of residents.

He appealed to the Management of SLWACO for a continued support towards the water supply project and to also train the technical staff of the project for the use and maintenance of the facilities.

Mr. Ibrahim S. N’jai also appealed for transportation in the areas of vehicles or motor bikes as the Kambia water supply project site is a long distance from the township.

The Chief Administrator of the Kambia District Council Victor Kalie Kamara expressed thanks and appreciation to the government of Japan and SALWACO for their support and pledged council’s determination to provide a subsidy towards the water project to ensure its sustenance.

A resident of Kambia Town who runs the council’s restaurant Adama Turay said the Kambia water supply project is a blessing to the district as they have been suffering to get pipe born water for years which also costs them a lot of money to buy packet water for drinking and domestic use at their homes.

She said they are willing to pay for the pipe –born water provided by the Kambia Water Supply Project as it will reduce the financial burden on families and also deaths on water born disease related ailments.

 This article is produced by Water and Sanitation Media Network, Sierra Leone Chapter in partnership with West Africa WaterAid and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

January 19, 2013

Sorie Town battles with Water shortage

By Salifu Conteh, Water and Sanitation Media Network S/L

The world’s great Philosophers after critically studying the significance of water in the daily sustenance of humans as they patch to find it, hold the fact that this natural substance is the main nourishment of life. This accepted fact has become the universal truth and its shortage or inaccessibility or affordability has become a global concern.

As the population continues to grow, the search for water not mentioning it purification and hygiene unabatedly continues to hit the world. Many qualities have been couched or converted about water and all these when critically looked at, it worth its meaning, and candidly there is nowhere in the world, where the use of water is not visible or on the contrary its shortage creates an herculean problem which can be easily seen on the faces of the victims.

The trek for pure water is slowly becoming very difficult for the world population breeding in bad sanitation which at the end gives birth to the acute health hazards. Pure drinking water and proper sanitary system are like two bed fellows and the lack or shortage of one leads to unwanted problems, forms part of the world’s Human Development Index which is globally now an impetus used to rate a country or nation.

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

Pure drinking water and improved sanitation is the backbone for proper health system and better living standard, as scientist have confirmed that a healthy body system can ably resist any incoming virus that may wants to invade the body. Meaning, especially in the third world countries (predominantly Africa) communities has the zest for pure drinking water and good sanitation many of these deplorable community despite the frantic efforts of the government suffers the brunt for proper water.

Though some have attributed such mishaps to the location of such community but the underlying note is that access to proper water and sanitation for every human being is a must and it absence is a violation and the consequences could not over emphasized, taking into cognizance communities like the KrooBay, Moe Wharf, Big Wharf, Sorie Town, Sumaila Town among others. It will be interesting that it is opined that water comes down from the hill up to the flat land, interestingly in some of these communities it is the reverse as the hillside areas which supposed to spill fresh water are the most affected and most deprived, investigations have shown that any outbreak will be disastrous especially for the children and lactating mother.

Taking a leg walk to the Sorie Town Community, back of the Pademba Road Maximum Prison, underlying the foot of the Fourah Bay College in the western area surrounded by Dwarzak Community, Sumaila Town Community etc., the patch for pure drinking water is alarming and touches the hearts as little children, pregnant women and others carrying containers trekking miles for water.

It has been like this for the past twenty-five(25) years now in this community leaving people somber  each day. The community is predominantly dominated by the third largest group in the country situated at Ward 375 Constituency 106 in the Central part of Freetown. The accessibility and affordability to pipe borne ware to them is impossible. Every year the period between December and the next rainy season is met by hordes of men, women and children scampering helter skelter at every hour of the day and night in search of clean drinking water.

When it rains the community piles all their utensils for water to easy the day’s trek, no matter how much.

Investigation revealed that the community initially source water from bore holes which they normally used for domestic purposes and trek miles in search of drinkable water.

According to information, some people who could not make it for drinking water had no option but to use those bore holes water to drink. ‘We’ve used to the water and we preferred them than the water. In fact it ease the burden of trekking miles away for a container or bucket of drinking water’, an old woman told me. She said, her age would not allow her to cover those distance for pure drinking water unless from the bore holes few yards from her house which she uses and she never complaint about any illness.

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

Mamie Ndeamor, further said, prior to this period when she and her late husband first settled in the community water was not a problem as there was fresh and good water running from the hill top. The surrounding communities were even jealous of Sorie Town as they usually come to fetch water from the community. It was because of the sufficiency of water in the community, lures inhabitants to engage in farming as most of the fresh leaves and crops were coming from Sorie Town.

Appallingly as things unraveled and with the influx of people putting structures everywhere without proper planning and preservation of the catchment areas the water has dried up and the site is almost like a dumping site oozing out little water.

It is sad, a young girl intimated this press, that during the dry season when the bore holes and dug out wells is dried people queued in those areas to fetch water.

Faced with such alarming situation, the community which is almost over populated dug out series of wells approximately closed to the narrow gutters for water and most of these wells the water there are not hygienic for human being. This menace affects most of the youths and school going pupils who had to tote a gallon or more depending on the size of the family everyday up and down the hill. For the school going pupils, they had to wake up very early in the morning in search of water and sometimes missed their first periods in class, whilst other get hits by motor bikes, for the young girls even get pregnant along the line since they have to trek miles and hours to fetch water before and after school. It is a serious problem in the community.

Joseph Turay, a middle age man, said the water problem in the community is not a new thing as it has been the usual talk and they have made many moves for an improvement but to no avail. He added that the politicians who normally visited the community are au- fait with these problems but have failed to help as they usually make vague promises. Prior to this period, a certain politician started the construction of a proper water system, but ceased to continue the work because the community refused to vote him as honourable Member of Parliament. ‘Basically, the project was like abate for the community people undertaken by the then politician’ he emphasized.

The Donwell, which is the major source of water in the community, was constructed this year by on Mr. Gerbar to salvage the problem. The well  though below the hygienic standards is always over crowded as community people both young and old had to throng with their containers to fetch  water back home in order to save time off the miles trek for water. But the million question that runs down the mind is how pure is the water since it is coming from an open well, is it normally treated by the community or the Health and Sanitation Ministry?. Suffice to say that many of our wells in the different communities round the country only received treatment when there is an outbreak, like the cholera outbreak that engulfed many lives.

The plight faced by the Sorie Town Community, is also visible in the other surrounding communities like the Sumaila Town, Dwarzak among others, where people had to walk miles off their houses to fetch water for diverse purposes. Visiting these communities will you will feel poverty, therefore one would not bother to talk about the purchase of packet water.

It will interest readers to note that despite the suffering of the people, there has not been any proper community mobilization and advocacy programmes put in place for pure water system in the community, neither from the government nor donors. And the looming danger is, had there been any outbreak of disease likes the cholera which had left nearly many homes in tears, it will be disastrous. Secondly, because of the unchecked encroachment of catchment areas the country will soon be faced with serious drought and there is also the possibility of landslide in these areas if nothing is done speedily. Meaning, it is not just about water insufficiency but the possibility of herculean problem hovering the communities in this country.

For instance, the slums areas, KrooBay, Big Wharf, Moa Wharf, Kanikay Wharf among others where people are using sticks and stones to bank the sea water, no pure drinking water, no proper sanitary system etc. had there been any flooding as happened elsewhere in the world it will be disastrous.

Coming back to my case study, which is Sorie Town, due to the unhygienic water, dug close to gutters and the poor sanitary system, the most prevalence disease in the community is Typhoid and Malaria. For the little children, they most often died of diarrhea and vomiting, not to mention pregnant women who normally gave birth under strenuous conditions. Many of those, whom this author was fortunate to run through (especially school going pupils) expressed their frustration and disappointment on the undue suffering they are faced with in search of pure water, which seriously affects their studies.

It is obvious, that there is an urgent need for government through the line Ministries to come up with a comprehensive programme of action to adequately address the crying needs affecting the hillside and hilltop communities. ‘What we need is for government to take on Water and Sanitation with a sense of urgency and make it a national concern’ a young school girl emphasized.

This article is produced by Water and Sanitation Media Network, Sierra Leone Chapter in partnership with West Africa WaterAid and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council .

January 19, 2013

Government must focus on WASH Situation at Allentown

BY SAHR DUMBAR MATTURI, Water and Sanitation Media Network S/L

Allen Town community is said to be one of the fastest developing communities on the outskirt of the City in the Western Rural Area. It has the fastest growing population who are affected with the accessibility and affordability of pure water and good sanitation.

This community is located along the Freetown –Waterloo Highway, approximately, thirteen miles from the capital city and divided into two half that is the lower part and upper part.

In the lower part of Allentown, most of the residence depends mainly on swamp water fetched from the wells as most are unable to access pipe borne water.

Visiting the community in the dry season, it will astonish one to see lots of people moving with rubber gallons from one point to another in search of pure drinking water.

Sanitation and Hygiene is another worrisome issue as there is a major area where a pit toilet and a borehole are very closer, this in effect affects the health statues of most of the people in the community. Those living along the valley are prone to deceases as waste materials are deposited in the  lower part of the stream which is later used by others.

Big water Well at Ojoku Community

Big water Well at Ojoku Community

One major source of water that is exhausted by thousands of people within the community and it surroundings is the “Big Water well” and in an interview with Amadu Kamara (Papay) the Care taker of the well, said most people from Portee, Brima Lane, Calaba Town and Allentown usually form a long queue to secure drinking water during the dry season. This is so in these communities simply because the Big water well for the past years now has been the main source of fetching pure drinking water. This implies that for one to get at least a gallon you need to wake up early or stay behind very late for a gallon. This trek affects many people and cause unwanted death and problems within the community. Interestingly, he went on the each of these surrounding communities have a large population and the well frequently dried up and this worsen the situation in these communities as the only alternative left is for them to revert to fetch untreated waters in their different communities.

 He further stated that the well was dug years back to salvage the water scarcity in the community. Today with the quest for affordable water to deprive and marginalize communities, Mr. Kamara is calling on development partners to help improve the status of Big Water Well.

In an interview with Chief Pa. Alimamy Sankoh  of Lower Allentown, he disclosed that access to pure drinking water is a major challenge as their main  source of drinking water is the Big Water Well. The Orogu Dam which was dug as an alternative or supplement to the big water well is not effective as the water there can’t serve the community especially those in the Upper Allentown area.

It is unfortunate that children most often involved in accident as they get encountered with vehicles along the highway whilst trying to cross to the other side to access pipe born water, which most times is hard to locate only they damaged running pipes belonging to private houses or government quarters.

Chief Pa. Alimamy Sankoh concluded by urging well meaning organizations, Government and Health Development partners for support as the community grows in a very unprecedented manner. He said the community is predominantly crowded with women and children who are the most affected in all the hazardous happenings engulfing the community.

 This article is produced by Water and Sanitation Media Network, Sierra Leone Chapter in partnership with West Africa WaterAid and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

November 26, 2012

Le 10.7 Billion Water Project for two Districts in Sierra Leone

By Mustapha Sesay
Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com
+232 78540108

Residents of Kailahun District and Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District are currently breathing some form of relief with the instillation of water treatment plants to access pipe born water.
The Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) charged with this responsibility has completed the installation of water treatment plants and its distribution networks at Mile-91 and Kailahun for the provision of safe drinking water for residents struggling to access pipe born water.
According to the Acting Director General of the Sierra Leone Water Company Victor Hastings Spaine the water supply project for mile 91 in the Tonkolili District was funded by the Government of Sierra Leone to the tune of (Le10.7b) to ensure households access pipe born water.
He also stated that the Kailahun water supply project was funded by the EXIM Bank of India as extended a line of US $ 30 million to the government of Sierra Leone for financing rehabilitation of existing water facilities and addition of new infrastructure to supply potable water to six areas across the country geared towards enhancing improved water supply for residents.
He said the project has been completed by Angelique International an Indian based company and residents have started using the pipe born water from their taps for drinking and domestic use in their homes so as to improve the living the standards of the people aimed at achieving the millennium development goals by 2015.
Explaining further Mr. Spaine said SALWACO has constructed 11kilo meters of transmission line and 9 kilo meters of distribution line for SLAWACO with state of art technology treatment plant and laboratory with a 250 cubic meters of water reservoir.
He added that SALWACO has also constructed 2 kilo meters of transmission lines and 13 kilo meters of distribution line with a state of the art technological treatment and laboratory for a 750 cubic meters of reservoir at mile 91.

The Administrative and Finance Officer of SALWACO Mariama Jalloh implored locals to handle the taps with care so as to sustain the project for the benefit of the residents in the area.
She also told beneficiaries of the SALWACO water project at Mile -91 and Kailahun to embrace the project for the effective use of the water supply and cautioned against destruction of the taps by Locals.
Residents of Kailahun and Mile -91 expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Water Company for completing the project.
Residents said it took over forty years for them to get access to pipe born water in both Mile-91 and Kailahun and promised to utilize the facilities for the benefit of all the people.
kailahun picture

July 23, 2012

3, 721 Cholera Cases, 62 dead in four Districts in Sierra Leone

3, 721 Cholera Cases, 62 dead in four Districts
….Health Ministry worried
By Mustapha Sesay
Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com
+23278540108

Officials in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, West Africa are currently thinking about possible strategies that will bring to halt the frequent deaths of Sierra Leoneans in four districts, namely Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area.
A cholera epidemic in the four Districts has claimed the lives of 62 people as at Tuesday 17th July 2012. Kambia District records the highest number of deaths at 26 whilst Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area have 21, 9 and 6 respectively.
The epidemic has now spread to the city Freetown with two hundred and seventy four reported cases since the outbreak. Port Loko District is reported to have recorded the highest number of cases with a total of one thousand nine hundred nineteen people affected by the recent outbreak. This is followed by Kambia district with nine hundred twenty four reported cases.
Report states that the latest outbreak has become a course for concern especially the Health Ministry, which is fighting tooth and nail to map up prevention education and strategies to prevent further cases.
Figures released by the Ministry also show that a total of one thousand nine hundred sixty children under the ages of five have been affected superseding adult cases recorded at one thousand seven hundred sixty one cases in all districts.
More cases of under-fives have been reported from Port Loko making the situation worrisome. Chlorine according to the Ministry of Health has been dispatched to provincial districts with increased surveillance along the area. Centers referred to as blue flag have been created to treat cases of Cholera in all affected areas as part of urgent measures put in place to treat the disease.
However, a medical team with support from the World Health Organization has also been dispatched to the area to collect samples especially water samples, as most of the areas affected depend on streams and water wells for domestic purposes except for the city Freetown that enjoys pipe born water.
Water sources in all affected areas are now undergoing treatment so as to curtain the disease.
It can be recalled in March this year a total of 34 people were reported dead as a result of cholera disease, with over 2,000 cases reported in three districts around the country.
Officials say the Districts affected are Kambia, Port Loko and Pujehun and that measures were put in place to contain the spread of the epidemic.
Cholera outbreak was first discovered in Yele Boya, a small Island in Kambia district on Sierra Leone’s border with Guinea, while more outbreaks were later reported in two other districts.
Cholera is said to be a severe disease which primarily affects the intestinal tract and it is caused by the pathogenic bacteria.
It causes weakness, fatigue, rapid pulse, excessive thirst, glassy and or sunken eyes, lack of tears, low urine output, vomiting, and diarrhea. Basically, because of the excessive amount of vomiting and diarrhea, the body becomes extremely dehydrated which leads to the other symptoms mentioned and, if not treated soon, also leads to death.
These pathogenic bacterial strains are usually ingested by drinking contaminated water or eating fish not cooked properly, specifically shell fish. The symptoms of cholera include dehydration, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The treatment of cholera involves antibiotics and re-hydration methods. Although, in most severe cases of cholera, this can lead to death.
To cause the disease in a normal healthy adult, nearly 1 million Vibrio cholerae bacterial strains must invade the body by ingestion. But susceptibility to cholera can increase in those who are malnourished, those with decreased gastric acidity (occurs due to heavy antacids usage) or those with poor immune system.

June 4, 2012

Poor WASH Polices and its Effects

By Mustapha Sesay-Sierra Leone, Email: mustaphasesay@yahoo.com

Unlike the Dry season in most African states that are characterized by acute water shortage, the Rainy season has stated and the masses are seriously going to feel the devastating effects due to lack of effective WASH policies in most areas
Sierra Leone is one of the places worst hit by poor water, hygiene and sanitation facilities at this time of the year as a result of man’s own activities to its environment.
Moving through the major streets of the cities, i.e. Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni, one common feature that is visible is the piles of garbage deposited all over by petty traders after the day’s sales. The drainage are so narrow that most of the waste materials fill these places and flow onto the streets thereby polluting the environment. In the market places, the single dustbin sites built by the Councils are not only overfilled but stinky as these places are left unattended making them breeding grounds for flies, mosquitoes, and mice.

It is alarming that when Council and the Waste Management Company are unable to perform their role of ensuring a healthy clean environment, the traders are left with no option but to deposit unwanted materials in various places. Though the places are filthy and flea infested, traders with cooked food or consumable food stuff are forced to occupy these filthy places and sell to the public. It is for this reason that at the start of the rains one is not surprised to hear of frequent reported cases of outbreak of Cholera, Dysentery, etc. What worries most people is that even the roads to these market places are muddy and filthy, yet Council is not doing much to address the issue. There are times suckling mothers will be busy selling consumable goods and at the same time attending to their babies. Apart from spreading diseases to the public, the cold environment is a health hazard to the baby.
Looking at the places where most of these traders come from in the morning hours, apart from the congestion of most residential areas, it is a common practice for most to throw their dirt into the drainages rather than depositing them in the dustbins. Others will prefer looking for empty rice sacks or drums to keep their garbage for days and weeks. The ugliest part of this scenario is that when it rains during the night people will be seen carrying their piles of rubbish to be deposited in the gutters and drainages, and at most times in the frontage of residences. Not in the least worried about where the rubbish ends up, it is no surprise that most are found flooding the streets and in some cases where houses are built in low level areas these unwanted materials are flooding the compounds of their fellow community people, while still hampering the smooth flow of traffic and pedestrians as they litter the streets.
The situation is unprecedented and has been viewed as very unhygienic as it presents a bad image of the cities to the public, especially visitors to our cities and country.
In most areas shrouded with poor WASH facilities, it is very deplorable to witness as household family members defecating in buckets, locked up tightly in their bathrooms only to be thrown in to the gutters and drainages when it rains; it is not uncommon at night to find people defecating in black plastic bags and throw them in the streets, bringing with them flies. It is on this note that people are advised not to pick up black plastic bags found along the streets after a heavy downpour of rain.
Another area that is hard hit by poor WASH facilities during the rainy season are the slum areas. Most of our cities especially along the west coast of Africa, special reference to Sierra Leone, are surrounded by slum communities which are mostly located by the seaside or coastal areas. Typical examples are the MOA Wharf, Kroo Bay, and Susan’s Bay to name but a few.
The plight of housing facilities is felt more seriously at this time of the year when the population has to battle with a wet environment and flooding. The population has to be up each time it rains heavily, as the deluge of water empties itself into these areas before it finally goes into the sea. Some of the ugliest feature of these communities especially Kroo Bay in the West of the city is that they are overcrowded with makeshift structures that are poorly built
With heavy torrential rains, these houses or areas are over flooded with rooms not spared.
With this, People at night wake up swimming in their houses or rooms reaching for places of safety. For the past years, the rainy season has been a worrisome moment as animals, properties and human lives are destroyed because the rain washes all along its path into the sea. In the past, there were plans to move the people within these places to safer areas but nothing of this is now heard about. In the city, the poor drainage construction is also of concern to the public as the flooded drainages are a death trap for school children and strangers as there are cases of children having been swept away only to be later found dead.
As a result of the outbreak of diseases associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our cities, flooding and destruction of lives and properties at this time of the year, the Central and Local Government in the past and present have used various strategies to address some of these burning issues, yet the problem still persists.
Before now, it was a common practice by the City Council in collaboration with Clean Salone and the Freetown Waste Management Company to ensure that the city and its environs are clean and environmentally friendly. Most of these strategies have been fruitless as a result of one’s attitudes towards maintaining a clean and friendly environment.
Previously, it had been scheduled that the last Friday of every month be “National Cleaning Day”; from 6am to 10am. All were expected to be within their environment cleaning their houses and compounds. Those who are caught along the streets doing nothing were either subjected to cleaning public places or arrested and later fined in the courts of law.
Though it was a good drive to ensure a clean environment, it was later misconstrued by certain sectors of the community. While it was meant to clean the environment, others were using the opportunity to throw all the dirt or rubbish accumulated for weeks along the streets. With the lack of man power/trucks on the side of the Council to speedily clear the piled up dirt, the rubbish was again scattered in the streets hampering the smooth flow of traffic. Though it is the mandate of the Council to clean the city, it was ironical that the city ended up becoming the dirtiest place after every cleaning exercise.
If today we as a nation prefer a clean environment devoid of health risk hazards, there is the need for all to observe best WASH practices in the sub-region and the country.

March 27, 2012

Diarrhea, Vomiting and Cholera sweep Border towns in Sierra Leone

By Mustapha Sesay, mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com
The plight of residents living in the border towns of Sierra Leone is becoming worrisome as reports make rounds that an outbreak of acute vomiting and cholera is affecting them which have attracted the attention of medical staff and some Humanitarian organizations

Reports of the notion was first revealed by one of the local newspapers “Salone Times” with the caption “Cholera Outbreak hits Northern Sierra Leone’ with special reference to the Kambia and Port Loko Districts. This town (Kambia) borders Sierra Leone with the Republic of Guinea. Two weeks after this report, a Journalist by the name of Saidu Bah of Awoko Newspaper was opportune to visit the Southern border towns of Sierra Leone where he witnessed acute diarrhea and vomiting cases and most of the parties were receiving treatment under mango trees and others offering shade.
Pictures taken by him and shown over National Television last week confirmed the magnitude of the epidemic and the urgent need for the government and other humanitarian organizations working towards combating the spread of the diseases to employ all measures to bring the threat under control.
Speaking to our northern correspondent Sahr Gbanga who visited Kambia and Port Loko District to get first hand information about the nature of these diseases, he first of all attributed the problem of quickly and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene practices in most remote areas visited.
According to him, there is adverse effect of the dry season on the availability of clean drinking water to these towns and villages. The absence of pipe borne water has left most of the residents with no option but to use stream and well water. Unfortunately, at the peak of the dry season most of these shallow wells are dried up and the streams are either very shallow or are also dried up.

The few that do continue to flow are overcrowded and populated as the scramble for water is the order of the day. In some of these remote parts, young girls have to walk long distances to get water for their domestic purposes. Mr. Banga highlighted the constraints involved in getting water. In one or two areas, the shallow streams are greenish with spirogyra or mud in the wells. This has not served as barriers to the deprived people as they scope every particle in the well and carry it to their towns Speaking to Fatu Kamara, a sixteen year old girl on how they purify the water before drinking, she informed him that for years now they only take the water home and allow the particles to settle before drinking as there is no time for purification.
In another town where a stream flows, he witnessed the deforestation along the banks for farming and various activities like washing, laundering and even the
washing of feaces by a suckling mother. This same stream according to him runs through other villages, and he was astonished to travel along it for a mile to find others getting it for consumption purposes. It was at this point he came toconclude that man was at a point in time contributing to his/her own predicament as a result of nature.
In the Southern border town of Pujehun District, Sulima town, another reporter Gbessay Juldeh noted some of the features. To his astonishment, most of the
victims were suffering from excessive vomiting and acute diarrhea. Most of those affected were helpless as a result of dehydration or loss of energy. Moving from one village to the next in Sorogbema Chiefdom, there was lamentation of the death of family members from the epidemic and the call on government and other humanitarian intervention to halt such a plague and avert it in the future.
It must be noted that at the peak of the dry season, access to affordable and quality water is a problem in most parts of the continent. In Sierra Leone, the urban towns like Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema to name a few, can go without pipe borne water for days and even where it is possible, hardly is it enough for all the inhabitants. With this, it should not be a surprise for provincial towns and remote villages to be affected with this problem. The reason being that resources are not yet ripe to move away to these places and install pipe borne water that are well
purified for drinking.
It must also be noted that most of the border towns are mainly populated with over 30,000 people roughly in some of these places because of trade and agricultural activities.
Furthermore, the outbreak of this acute vomiting and diarrhea occurred at a time when the Community Health Officers and Community Health Assistants downed tools in most of the clinics in these remote areas. Like in the Northern town of Kambia and Pout Loko Districts the causes of the
epidemics in the Board Town of Pujehun District according to our reporter is related to the lack of quality water, Hygiene and sanitation facilities. With shallow wells, the residents have no option but to drink contaminated water, most defecate in the open or the few toilets are not ideal for human usage, and resident at this time of the year are more interested in their farming activities than that of sanitation in the towns.

To address this problem in the boarder towns, the following measures needed to be taken into consideration: there must massive sensitization and awareness on the need to live a clean environment free from pollution. Pit latrines should be constructed by every householder and the people admonished on the dangers of open defecation. Stream water must be used wisely during the dry season as it is a major source for the spread of diseases when contaminated. Government and humanitarian organizations must construct water wells in remote areas and encourage medical staff like Community Health Workers with drugs and other incentives in order to be dedicated and committed to their work. It is believed that when such precautions are taken, diseases related with water, sanitation and hygiene would be addressed or curtailed.

March 9, 2012

Ahead of World Water Forum – Government to invest in the Water Sector

By Diana Coker
dianacoker1@yahoo.com

The 6th World Water Forum will take place in Marseille, France on the 12 – 17 March 2012. This is the world largest meeting around the issue of water. The goal of the forum is to tackle the challenges our world is facing and bring water high on the political agenda.

One year ago at the United Nations, 189 states agreed that the right to water everywhere on the planet, for all and everyone must be guaranteed and implemented. Nearly two years ago experts in water and sanitation issues AITKINS UK advised the Sierra Leone government to reconsider an adjustment on the tariff of water to meet current economic trend.
Since 2006, a gallon of portable water produced by Guma Valley Water Company for domestic consumer cost Le 1.30 cent ($ 0.25) and that of commercial consumers is Le13.000 equivalent to $4, these rates have been classified as the cheapest in the world.

Notwithstanding, the low tariff, Sierra Leone is still striving to implement the right to water, the in availability and inaccessibility of clean drinking water is still a problem posing huge challenges to the main service provider of portable water in the city. To get the facts together, investigation carried out clearly proves that currently the main source of supply, the Guma Dam at mile 91 produces at its maximum 16.5 million gallons of water per day.

There is growth in population increase in the city for the past 10 -13 years thus leading to newly developed communities that are yet to access safe drinking water. The challenges the company faces are numerous mostly ranging from the authorised interference on the system (e.g. cutting of pipes, valve regulation by non Guma workers deforestation of smaller water sources leading to pollution, wide spread illegal connection and failure to pay bills by consumers. According to a worker, who prefers anonymity for obvious reasons, most of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies owe the company huge amount of monies and therefore they could not address some technical related problems and increase water supply to unserved areas.

Furthermore, investigations so far have proven that the Guma Valley Water Company does not benefit from government subvention like the case of the National Power Authority about 83 thousand dollars is spent quarterly for the purchasing of chemicals (chlorine, lime and alum). The cost of running the company is so high that there is urgent need for additional assistance from both government and other international financial institutions to kick start the much trumpeted Orugu Dam in the east of Freetown.

The development of a second dam must be given serious consideration to address the water crisis. As both Parliamentary and Presidential elections are fast approaching, it is hoped that politicians place water, sanitation and hygiene issues at the heart of the country’s development agenda, they must ensure that policies are translated into real actions that will directly impact on the lives of the poor and marginalized, who are faced with the daily dilemma of inaccessibility to safe drinking water and affordable sanitation in their communities and to also attract more companies to invest in the country. Water is life.

February 27, 2012

Life in Slum Communities in Monrovia

By Mustapha Sesay Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

Travelling along the coastal areas of most West African cities, one will be worried to see the overcrowded situation in these places.
Most people spoken to advanced reasons for it being the cheapest place to live and easily get access into the cities at a cheaper cost.

Monrovia is no exception to this; on a visit to two slum communities, West Point that hosts over 50 thousand people and Clara Town that hosts 48 thousand people, the plights created by the lack of sanitation, hygiene and quality water is unimaginable as one million people are dying slowly from sanitation, water and hygiene.

In Clara County, a suburb of Monrovia, located on Bushrod Island in Liberia in Montserrado, the birth place of the famous football star and now politician, George Weah, is very worrisome as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Journalists from fourteen West African Countries were moved with pity when the Headman David Jacob and community people disclosed that for years now there are only few pipes or water wells to meet the growing demand for water. Most get water from youths who sell it in gallons. Others will have to wait in line for hours or a days to at least get water to take home.
According to Albert, a resident, they are worried that one of their main taps or water wells is very close to the public toilets. To worsen the situation, most of the houses are without toilets or bathrooms. With such large population, there are only eleven public toilets. So people are now making it a habit of defecating in plastic bags and either throwing it on top of the roof of houses or along the streets.

This, in Monrovia, is called OPERATION CHAPEL BALL OR TODU BALL, meaning one must be careful at night not to encounter artificial bombs of toilets thrown in plastic bags.
To many this is not only polluting the air but also the main source of water during the rains. As such, the health of the population is greatly affected from both air and water contaminated diseases that are easily spread from one person to the next.
One major factor for this menace is that the population has grown at a rapid rate and the facilities cannot match with it. It is on this note that the elders are calling on the attention of the government and other agencies working on hygiene, water and sanitation to create alternative sources of getting affordable drinking water, establish dustbin sites, organize the youths to clean the environment and construct more public toilets.

Unlike Clara Town, the situation at West Point that hosts over fifty thousand people is nothing good to write home about. Commissioner Sylvester Lama emphasized that it is a threat to a cosmopolitan community. The population comprises different nationalities in the West Africa region engaged in diverse works of life.

Unfortunately, though it is one of the oldest counties, created in 1952 and named after West Point Military Academy of the United States of America with six different communities yet lacks adequate safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. On site visit, the shallow wells by the sea area are meant for cooking and domestic work. To get drinking water, they either travel to Clara Town, buy rubbers of water or travel to distant places.

As if this was not enough, the toilet facilities is unimaginable, the homes lack toilets, the youths who cannot afford to pay for the use of public toilets have to rush to the seaside and deposit waste products. For the other, they make use of make shift toilets that are opened to both men and women in the same building on a first come first serve basis. It is apportioned into smaller rooms; from the bowels of man directly in to the water all these waste are found floating by the seaside.
Here it is a matter of re-cycling of waste products. Most of the inhabitations are fishermen. So the fish eat the toilets and they are caught and sold or eaten by the locals. This means the toilets in another form goes back to Man and then to the fish.

It is no surprise that the Commissioner highlighted the health status of the 50 thousand people who are usually affected by water born diseases, pollution and unhygienic environment. It is as a result of this issue that the elders and Commissioners are now seeing the dangers of the makeshift pit toilets and now calling for the building of flush community toilets.
It is also suggested that the youths be empowered to regularly clean the beaches and costal areas. There should be more education programmes on hygiene, water and sanitation and platforms must be created where the youth and elders can sit and address these problems.

This situation is compounded on the grounds that there is no hospital at West Point. It was reported that for a place closer to the city, people are carried in wheelbarrows to hospitals far away. Recently, a pregnant woman died as a result of this acute situation. The educational facilities are also deplorable as there is only one public school.

The irony of this situation is that if we cannot address the situation in the city or its environment, what can we say about the rural towns and villages that are away from the seat of power
It’s now time to save the one million population in these two slum areas of Monrovia by ensuring that we raise the effects of there deplorable conditions among slum developers, sensitize the inhabitants on the need to practice hygiene, sanitation and getting access to clean and affordable water so that we tend to see a healthy and productive environment

February 27, 2012

Cholera Outbreak hits Northern Sierra Leone

By Diana Coker –dianacoker1@yahoo.com

Sierra Leone

Kambia and Port-Loko Districts in the northern part of Sierra Leone are the affected areas of Cholera out break. Ministry official says. The declaration came after reports of an increase number of death rate in Yeliboya, a cosmopolitan fishing area situated in Kambia.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kisito Daoh in respect of the outbreak of cholera stated among others in a press release that after investigation from the Medical Microbiologist for Vibro Cholera and Staphylococcus feacalis in both stool and water samples collected from affected areas, have declared an outbreak of cholera in both Kambia and Port- Loko Districts.

What actually this press release did not say was whether there has occured any death whatsoever and also the mechanism put in place to address the outbreak before it gets beyond the current affected areas.

What perhaps most Sierra Leoneans are keenly concerned about is the inavailability and inaccessibility of clean drinking water in most areas in Sierra Leone, but more so in rural settings, what is available to the people is often a running stream which dries up in the dry season.

In an interview with one Madam Fatu Sesay who alledged that her husband died as a result of the cholera outbreak in Yeliboya, she appealed to the Government to provide them with clean drinking water and also construct quality toilet facilities in some public places. She stated that they depend on fresh water from rivers around Kambia District for domestic purposes, but this water she says are not treated.

She says that most of them are low income earning people, and therefore they cannot afford to construct quality toilet facilities in their homes, but rather what basically they have embarked on over the years is to build hanging toilets in the nearby streams.

From thorough investigation conducted in most places in the cities as well as towns and villages it has been found out that chlorine which is used to purify water generally is not available for sale in the country. It is understood that only the Guma Valley Water Company has the sole right to import and use this very important chemical.

Despite chlorine is not easily accessible, whatever little water they get be it from a bore whole, they fail to boil to kill bacteria which definitely affects their health and causes death. What needs to be done is for the Guma Valley Water Company and SALWACO to register these bore holes and water basins constructed in every part of the country, and provide them with water purification chemicals for a fee, if these very important life saving moves are made the issue of outbreak of cholera and diarrhea can be effectively combated and become a thing of the past.

Another key area of concern is the filthy environment in the city and other big towns, these is not helped by the fact that there are numerous streets trading activities which generates tones of garbage every day, the deposit of waste in sensitive parts of the country and the lack of capacity on the part of the Waste Management Company to effectively deal with the poor sanitation circumstances.

Even the land-field-sites are poorly managed due to inavailability of a bulldozer to use regularly to move the huge tones of garbage swelling up in particular location. Workers at these sites lack the requisite dressing gears, such as nose mask, protective overall, and boots to work in these sites.

During the dries, some of the land-field-sites emits dangerous gases into the air which eventually spreads out to the adjacent community, causing poor health situation, flies and mosquitoes germinates in their millions causing common diseases , such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria.

February 23, 2012

Millions lack access to WASH services in Liberia, Sierra Leone


                                                     By MUSTAPHA SESAY Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

What will the World be in the not too distant future if modalities are not put in place by World Leaders, Policy Makers, and Agencies towards  the deteriorating  situations of millions of deprived communities affected by lack of access to quality and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene?

As the adage goes, ‘when I see, I feel the plight of the situation, when I hear, I recall and when I touch, I am moved by the reality on the ground.’ This is exactly the situation of most slum communities and urban areas where the population exceeds the basic social amenities.

Taking a closer look at two post war countries; Sierra Leone and Liberia, one is bound to compare and contrast the deplorable slum situation between the two countries.

POOR SANITATION AT KROO BAY

One common feature is that Kroo Bay in Sierra Leone and West Point in Monrovia were places that housed thousands of internally displaced that fled the rural areas for the cities during the civil wars that ravaged the two countries. It was during that period that population explosion took place in urban areas there by ruining most of the facilities. After the war, most of the youths refused going back to their original places as some took up petty trading and established make shift structures as they had nothing to go back to.

MAKE SHIFT TOILETS AT WEST POINT

Despite promises by Governments of these countries to relocate these slum dwellers to safer and conducive places, yet this has not been feasible due to economic and political reasons.

Speaking to some elders and politicians, some of the factors responsible for the halting of such venture is that it is difficult to relocate a population of over thirty thousand to a site as the cost involved is so exorbitant as huge funds are needed for the relocated site to have basic facilities to prevent the people returning to their previous places.

Further more funds are not always available to ensure that the empty spaces left behind are utilized for developmental purposes. As a result, the criminals will utilize such places as their hide out that will pose security threat to the society.

Another worrisome issue discussed by most of the people in these slum communities is that most have stayed in those localities with children going to schools, so it becomes very difficult to move over to a new site.

Notwithstanding some of these views,  It is becoming clear that life in these two communities are plagued with diseases, pollution, environmental hazards as a result of the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene for the growing population.

On the area of sanitation, Kroo Bay has a stream flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, most of the house hold waste, and toilets are thrown into this stream. During the day children and pigs are seeing washing in the stream thus water born diseases are easily contracted

In the rainy season, the whole area is flooded as the water from the city is emptied into this area before getting into the ocean.  With this, there has been reported cases of flooding and loss of life and properties

Crime rate is high in this community simply because there is no proper building planning making it prone to fire disaster.

Unlike West Point   located on a peninsula  on the  Atlantic Ocean between the Mesurado and Saint Paul rivers that is resided by people from 14 West African countries .It is worth noting that this area is the main source of fish  but it is disheartening to see the deplorable nature of the community with a high rate illiteracy and without basic sanitation and health facilities. To worsen the situation, the community cannot boast of a single government clinic and a school to educate the children of basic hygiene and sanitation.

As a way of getting the view of the Commissioner of the area Sylvester Larno, WASH facilities in the town is one of the worst in the capital of Liberia.

Dilating on sanitation issue, Kroo Bay in Sierra Leone is far better than as compared to West Point, the reason being that some of the houses have toilets and there is a public toilet that is decent unlike West Point with a few make shift toilets. And even with that, only those who can afford money will have to make use of the structures while the poor practice open defecation to the disadvantage of the population. There are times youths do clean their areas and the major street making it accessible to most of the social facilities in the city.

Pure drinking water is accessible as tap water and wells could be visible, while at West point, it is the opposite as residents have to walk miles, buy plastic water or drink the unhygienic water that is closer to defecation centres.

SCRAMBLE  FOR WATER IN SLUM COMMUNITY

Some common features about slum communities are that they characteristic of overcrowding that are prone to epidemic diseases. This in return will affect the health status of the population. There is no privacy and most of the children grow up with bad attitudes in life. During the rains, flooding is the order of the day in these areas closer to the sea.

Notwithstanding these menace, improving sanitation, water and hygienic facilities will curtail the spread of diseases. There is need for regular sanitization and awareness programmes on these issues. Some of the youths should be provided with skill training jobs so that with livelihood, they can look out for decent places to stay.

February 22, 2012

Rural Women and Children struggle for safe clean drinking water

                                      By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya, Sierra Leone

Climate change or the unfriendly activities of human beings on earth and the environment may be the result of acute shortage of clean and safe drinking water in Sierra Leone and other parts of the continent, causing millions of people including children and women suffer on a daily basis.

The situation of acute shortage of clean water has been experienced in the city and the provincial areas where less concentration is normally given to communities on the part of water and other social basic amenities. In Sierra Leone, the problemImages of acute shortage of clean and safe drinking water are not only occurring in the deprived communities in the provinces but those communities in the outskirt of the city as well.

Water is an essential commodity and the international community is putting more efforts to it to ensure human beings access safe and clean drinking water.

On September 30th 2010, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus Resolution 64/292 the human right to water and sanitation affirming that water and sanitation are human rights. During this historic meeting in Geneva, the UN affirmed by consensus that the right to water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living, which is contained in several international human rights treaties.
Standard times environmental reporter, Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya travels to communities surrounding the capital city of Freetown and those in the Kambia District and get a first hand information on how the urban, rural and children are struggling to get safe and clean drinking water for their families.
I first travel to Kambia District, a distance of about 150 miles. From Kambia Town, I proceed to rural communities in a village called 15 Mile in the Tonkoh Limba Chiefdom, exactly 15 miles distance from Kambia Town. The village stretches northwards of the chiefdom and it is about 3 miles from the beginning of the Chiefdom. Over 1000 people live here.
There is no community center in this village in case there is a need for social activities or community meetings and gatherings. I spend a night in here and electricity is not something to think about in the village. When a vehicle passes through the village at night, children and adults normally glad when they see the brightness of the vehicle. Absolutely, there is no development here and parents who love their children to attend school send them to other villages like Mile 14 and Sella Kafta before they can get basic primary education.

Like in other communities in the Tonkoh Limba Chiefdom and other parts of the country, there is no water borne pipes or dug water well in the village. The over one thousand people in this village (children, youths and women) must walk two and half miles to fetch water for their daily use. In the morning after a stressful night in a strange village, I proceeded to the community only source of water called Kamaworni with Madam Mabinty Kamara and a class nine year old school pupil.
The water well of about 50 metres round is surrounded by trees and the water level is low and one must go very close to fetch a bucket of water and be careful not to fell into the well. In normal cases, clean and safe drinking water is usually colourless, but this is not the situation here in Kamaworni water site. The community drinking water is colorful and if you are a stranger, you will not have the audacity to take a bucket of water and wash your feet. But the community people who are used to this because of no alternative will do that and drink with confidence.

The clayed water is a host to toads, snakes and other water animals. If you are not used to see these things, you will be scared seeing snakes, toads and other animals dancing and playing in the water while children and women trying to fetch buckets of water for the day’s use. I saw stinky mud which was producing unfavorable smell from the water.
Mabinty Kamara who is married to a husband of this village and now 20 years since she came into the 15 Mile community said they have been facing with such situation of fetching filthy water for their homes. Madam Mabinty knows the water is filthy and not suitable for human beings to drink and do other domestic works. She said there is no alternative for them and “either we fetch clay water and allow it to sentiment for use or we do not get water for our homes at all costs”.
The drinking of the filthy water normally result to sicknesses for the community people and Madam Mabinty said “we do normally sick and because the God almighty is with us, some of these sicknesses are cured by the clay water after persistent drinking”.
Pa Ceray Sorie Kamara is one of the elders of the 15 Mile community.

He also reflected on the past how they have been suffering from the village without clean and safe drinking water for themselves and their children. Pa Kamara said “we have been drinking this water for some time now and we are use to this. We will continue to use to the sad situation if there is no assistance from NGOs, the government of Sierra Leone or any philanthropist individual or institution”.
Pa Sorie is not in favour of his community being left from development by NGOs and the government especially on development concerning water and sanitation. He said “the NGOs like Action Aid in the past ignore them and pass through their community to go and dig community dug-water well taps in other villages.

Pa Sorie adds “they pass us here as if we don’t want water wells. I don’t know if it is because the village is small and even the fact is the village is small, we are still people who need basic needs and clean water”.
After a stressful journey in 15 Mile Village in Kambia, I boarded a vehicle and back in Freetown for another assignment in the Tree Planting community in Leicester Road. The Tree Planting community is overlooking the capital city of Freetown. Madam Adama Fatima in the Tree Planting community in Freetown shares the same experience with Madam Mabinty Kamara who lives in the 15 Mile village.
Madam Adama also don’t use pipe-borne water for her home but will always take her bucket and looks towards a filthy water stream to fetch water for her children and for domestic purposes. She said they have been suffering at the community with no taps to easily fetch water and added that “any day I and my children must come to this filthy and static stream to fetch water.”
The Leicester Road community closer to the Western Area Peninsular Forest is also suffering from acute shortage of water. The watersheds which are the main sources for supplying water to the community and other parts of the city are dry-off because of massive cutting down of trees for settlement.

About two years ago, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) dished out funds over one hundred and fifty thousand Leones for community gravity water taps but these proposed taps never worked for the community. Probably, some of the community elders shared the money among themselves leaving a host of residents to continue struggling for the clean and safe drinking water.
Although there are no known plans set by Non-Governmental Organizations and possibly the government of Sierra Leone to undertake pipe-borne or dug water taps in various parts of the communities overlooking the city and the provincial communities, the Minister of Energy and Water Resources while planting trees recently at the Moku Hills in the Western Area Peninsular Forests Reserve said they recognize that people are suffering to get clean and safe drinking water.

The Minister said as a responsible government, they will ensure they provide water for people in the country.
The only time the communities both in the provinces and some parts of the city can make use of clean and safe drinking water is during the mid of the raining season and if this situation is not corrected and assistance provided, communities in the provinces especially 15 Mile will continue to suffer and struggle to get clean and safe drinking water for their various uses.

October 6, 2011

ADB, OPEC to spend US$61M on water projects in S/Leone

By Mustapha Sesay mustaphasesay2007@yahoo.com

 

The government through its development partners, namely the African Development Bank (ADB) and the OPEC Fund for International Development has provided sixty-one million United States Dollars ($US61M) for the provision of water and sanitation in the Cities of BO, Kenema and Makeni that have been going through acute water shortages over the years.

The project which will be implemented by the Sierra Leone Water Company (SLAWACO) through the WATSAN project would be supervised by the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources.

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