Thousands hike distances for drinking water
By Alie Sonta Kamara
Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone
Sunshine Valley; Women laundering at a contaminated stream
Access to Water and good Sanitation is key to the health and development of any society. It is with this back drop that Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone Chapter is partnering with West Africa Water Aid and Water Supply, Sanitation and Collaborative Council in the United Kingdom to visit some of the marginalize
d and deprived communities in the country to get first hand information on the status of pure water and good sanitation in these places.
At the week end, it was a spectacular sight to witness the unending plight of Hillside communities in the west end of Freetown as thousands everyday are forced to travel miles away in search of pure drinking water whilst others have no option but to use contaminated stream for their daily activities.
Among the areas visited were the Kanko Water Well at the Sunshine Valley, a new community situated at the foot of Hill Station and a narrow stream running through Sunshine Valley , Hill Cut and the Wilberforce communities.
It was noted with dismay that despite the unreserved strides made by the Government of Sierra Leone, some N
on Governmental Agencies and the United Nations Agencies in putting an end to the water crisis that exists in the country, thousands of the inhabitants in these parts of Freetown still have to trudge miles away in search of pure drinking water.
KANKO SAMURA WATER WELL
Among these water deprived areas are Wilberforce, Hill Cut, Hill Station and the International Military Advisory Training Team (IMATT,) all in
the West End of Freetown. Inhabitants in these places depend mainly on boreholes for drinking water. One famous and widely used borehole is that owned by one Kanko Samura at the Sunshine Valley. Sunshine Valley is a new community situated at the foot of Hill Station, with approximately three thousand people.
The community began attracting home seekers in 2004 when newcomers saw the need of drilling boreholes to scoop water for drinking purpose since children would have to be on the streets for hours on end to fetch water.
The ‘Kanko Water Well’, as it is named, has been serving far-away communities where Guma Valley Water Company( the main source of water supply in the city) has not been able to provide services.
“We believe the water in the water well is good to drink, even if you put it in a container for a long time, you can never notice any sediment,” Mama Kanko said. But scientific studies have shown that water of such nature is hard and there is high tendency that it may not be free from germs. “On my own, I have been applying chemicals to the water well. I also have a colleague who sometimes helps with medicine to keep the water in the hole clean and pure,” she added.
She disclosed that since the opening of the community no goodwill NGO or government agency has ever conducted any tour to see whether they have water crisis.
Once on a while, Guma Valley water tankers help these named communities with water. “When tankers come, only few vigilant youth can win the battle to get water,” she said.
In the rainy season, however, places like Wilberforce Barrack gets water from the available taps around, but in the dry season taps remain closed since the water does not have the power to run uphill. During this hard time, people hike distances to fetch water at the Kanko Water Well
From the IMATT peak runs a narrow stream through Sunshine Valley, Hill Cut, Wilberforce and empties into the ocean through Kroo Bay. The stream is being used for washing clothes, for toilet and for the mixing of mortar. This Present reality records the lack of toilet and clean water to do other domestic cleansing.
Although people in these communities go through such ordeal, however, no major account of death was recorded during the outbreak of cholera.
These communities have no date set aside for general cleaning. “We clean our area when the Government announces public cleaning. But most times, we clean when we find it necessary,” Kanko said.
Health facilities are poor in these areas. “If the Government or any philanthropist wants to help us, they should consider constructing taps or providing us with chemicals to keep our water clean. We also need heath centers around where the sick could be treated at all times ” she concluded.