STEWARD’s integrated WASH program launched
by Mustapha Sesay
Water & Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone
The official launch of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) component of the Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West Africa Regional Development Program (STEWARD) was held at the Hub Hotel Conference hall at Wilberforce on Thursday 30th April 2015.
The Mano River Union and the United States Forest Service, and International Programs are currently implementing the third phase of the Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West Africa Regional Development Program (STEWARD), which commenced in 2011. The program aimed at positively contributing to the conservation of the vast natural resources and unique biodiversity in the sub-region and promoting sustainable development in MRU Member States (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Cote d’ Ivoire). A key component of the program is the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to forest communities as strategic intervention to re-enforce the conservation objectives of the program and improve the health and wellbeing of the people.
The goal of the STEWARD’s WASH component is to contribute to improved health and climate resilience of forest communities. It is all about educating communities protect and develop key drinking water sites, and solid planning, sitting and construction for sanitation facilities. It hopes to increase the use of sanitation service by 5, 000 people by the end of the program, increase use of improved drinking water for 20, 000 people, and improve hygiene practices by 25, 00 people by the end of the program.
Secretary General of the MRU, Ambassador Dr. Hadja Saran Daraba Kaba described water, sanitation and hygiene as very important for the sustainability of life. She profited out that concrete steps have been taken to sustain the STEWARD program and ensure that it achieves its desired objective. She admonished all to join hands together so that the program betters the lives of the intended beneficiaries. ‘
The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John F. Hoover described West Africa as very rich in natural resources, yet the Sub-Region faces threat in preserving those resources. He added this was why the STEWARD program was launched to conserve biodiversity and improve rural livelihoods in critical trans-boundary landscapes in the Upper Guinean Tropical Forest Ecosystem.
Representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health pledged government’s commitment to ensure that the program achieves its desired goal.
Paramount Chief Kandeh Sorie Ka-Kanday III of Tambaka Chiefdom in the Bombali District revealed that the project has helped them so much. “We are now serving as champions in preserving the forest as we have stopped cutting down trees and hunting wildlife animals,” he said, and promised that he will not relent in implementing by-laws to protect the environment for their own safety.