By Mustapha Sesay, Water & Sanitation Media Network S/L, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosseh town is located along the Freetown-Waterloo Highway about thirteen miles on the outskirt of the Capital City of Freetown. The town with a population of over five thousand inhabitant, is divided into seven sections; namely- Youth Farm, Woreh section, New London to name but a few.
Prior to the rebel war, the people in that community had benefited considerably from Pipe born water and by then the population was not as big as it is presently. After the war, there was a massive migration of the people from provincial Towns into these areas, especially Kossoh Town which has resulted into the deforestation of part of the reserved forest areas and the total vandalisation of most of the water service delivery facilities. This encroachment and the acquisition of Land has caused serious problems in certain areas with low breeding shortage of water and the lost of valuable site that holds the dignity of the country. Many areas are now suffering from water shortages due to the increase of population and the Kossoh Town is no exception, only saved by a German humanitarian Organization, Welt Hunger Hilfe.
Today, Kossoh Town is one of the fastest growing places which housed the Freetown Teachers College, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, the Chinese Hospital and other institutions.
One serious challenge being faced by the citizens in this part of the country is the need for a sub- dam and a water tank to preserve excess water for the dry season.
As a way of identifying the challenges faced by this community, members of the Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone Chapter visited this place on Saturday 3rd May, 2014, to ascertain the trend at which community people access pure water.
The coordinator of the organization Mr. Sesay expressed gratitude for the opportunity accorded them to get first hand information about the history of the dam and the challenges encountered with respect to the people accessing pure and affordable water and clean environment.
The coordinator disclosed that Sierra Leone like many other developing countries failed to meet the Millennium Development Goal because much priority was not placed on the issue of water and sanitation. Furthermore, a lot of advocacy work was not done in raising awareness on the holistic approach to properly utilize the natural gift of God for generations yet unborn.
It is with this backdrop that Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone WASH Jn. is touring various dams, water wells and catchment areas right through the country to amplify the challenges of water service delivery system.
The Head Man for Kossoh town, Mr. Victor Haffner disclosed that with the rapid expansion of his town, the issue of water deserves the utmost attention.
In assuming the leadership mantle in 2010, one of his promises was to protect the catchment areas so that water is constantly to the people. With this, he halted all those who had wanted to encroach on reserved forest area around the dam.
Mr. revealed that with the destruction of the old dam that used to supply pipe born water before the war, in 2011, a representation was made to WHH, a German organization. According to the Headman, there were a lot of seminars and workshops held for the construction of the current dam that is supplying water.
The natural dam supplies pure water to most institutions and the community around. It is five feet deep and built with concrete.
Mr. Haffner furthered that when it rains, the water overflows its bank unto the month of January.
During this period, there is constant supply of water to the private houses, the public through the street pipes, the Freetown Teachers College, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, and other agencies. During the dry season, though there is a constant flow of water, there is a drop in its volume. As such, the water from the dam is rationed at specific times to the public, the tertiary institutions which the private people benefit from constant supply of water.
The Councilor, Mr. Williams Jones stated as a way of alleviating the plight of his people in accessing pure and affordable drinking water, dry the season he used his own resources to rehabilitate two of the non functional hand pumps at Kossoh town.
Another area where the Government and other agencies working on water related issues need to come in and assist the Kossoh town community is the rehabilitation of the water tank for preservation of water. We were made to understand from the public that the tank was constructed during the era when their program was folding up. As soon as the tank was constructed, it was not allowed to dry up within a space of twenty one to thirty days before pumping water into it for distribution to the general public, As a result, the volume of the water made a lot of cracks resulting it into a state on unworthiness for its intended purpose.
Another problem identified was that though the water is pure, the water rubber pipes from the dam to the respective distribution places need some replacement as bush fire destroy them and the heavy volume of the water during the rainy season also affect them.
On the area of maintenance and sustainability of the constant flow of water, most people are of the notion that water service should be free and it is their right to get free waters so any form of payment is void.
Little are the people realizing that there is need to pay some amount at the end of the month for the management to repair the worn out equipment, pay staff for their services and expand work to other areas.
As deforestation of the reserved forest affects the constant flow of water, a committee should be empowered to constantly monitor the catchment areas so that people are kept off these areas.
Unlike other dams that have been encroached upon for the construction of houses, community leaders must take up the challenge to protect this dam area.
More sensitization work must be done on the need to pay a minimal amount for at the end of the month for water service delivery.
With some leakages identified at the dam, agencies working on water related issues can contribute to the sustainability of this dam by rehabilitating the wall or increasing its height.
There is the need for the community to be thinking of exploring new areas for the construction of a new dam that will in the future match with the challenges of the growing population.
One notable feature about our visit to this community is the flow of water from the dam to the pipes for the consumption of the public.