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.
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.