Archive for February, 2017

February 27, 2017

Comprehensive 2017 Freetown Dry Season Water Supply Backup Plan launched

by Mustapha Sesay

mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

A comprehensive plan to address the water shortages experienced by Freetown’s citizens during the dry season, has been prepared by the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) and the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC), in collaboration with the UNDP, DFID, and UNICEF.

The Minister of Water Resources, Momodu Maligi announced the 2017 Freetown Dry Season Water Supply Backup Plan at Baoma in Goderich on 31st January 2016, during a ceremony to hand over the community’s new solar-powered borehole.  The solar-powered borehole is one of twenty-two around Freetown, that are being fast-tracked as part of the plan.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister thanked stakeholders such as development partners, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Sierra Leone Water Company, the President’s Delivery Team, Strategy and Policy Unit, Freetown WASH Consortium and all of Freetown’s councillors and community stakeholders for being part of the planning process.

He outlined the complex causes of the city’s water shortages saying.  “The Guma Dam is the source of 98% of Freetown’s water.  It is backed up by other smaller sources – Allen Town, White Water, Blue Water and Babadorie.  Freetown’s dilapidated water supply infrastructure and the severe environmental degradation of crucial water catchment zones around dams like Guma Valley and Babadorie, mean that current water supply cannot reliably meet the needs of Freetown’s rapidly expanding population.  Added to this is the widespread practice of cutting water pipes or ‘created leaks’ which allows an estimate of 40% of the water supplied by Guma Valley to be wasted.”

He assured the audience of the Government’s commitment to ensuring safe water for Freetown’s population.  “We are fully conscious of the responsibility we bear to Freetown and its people.  We are fully conscious of the social and economic impact of the dry season on households in the city.  The key focus of the Dry Season Water Supply Backup Plan is to ensure a coherent and integrated response that mitigates these. If all the men and women of Freetown work with us to make this plan a success, the measures we have put in place will support us through this challenging period.”

The 2017 Freetown Dry Season Water Supply Backup Plan was developed as part of the President’s Recovery Priorities process.  Learning from the experience of previous dry seasons, MOWR and GVWC started planning in September last year, to ensure that regular access to safe water around Freetown would be maintained.

The plan entails implementation of a robust water rationing schedule to ensure that water supplied through the network is equitably distributed around the city.  Additional water sources include the construction of twenty-two new boreholes in areas like Gloucester, Leicester, Old Wharf, Calaba Town, Allen Town, Wellington and Kissy.  These complement a programme of rehabilitating 20 existing boreholes, and the construction of four industrial boreholes in Babadorie, Brookfields and Kissy. Communities not connected to the GVWC network will be kept supplied with water by bowsers. To reduce the significant water loss resulting from ‘created leaks’ or pipe cutting, dedicated rapid response teams have been established to monitor and repair leaking pipes quickly and efficiently along the ten zones in Freetown, and a freephone number – 246 – set up to allow the public to report any concerns.

Mr Bankole Mansaray, General Manager of Guma Valley Water Company, stressed the need for consumers to pay for their water supply to enhance the sustainability of the service.  “Water rates generate funds that support the operation and maintenance of our water system.  Our city’s ability to reliably and safely meet its water demands is directly related to investment in water infrastructure and ability to fund adequate repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of infrastructure assets.  Currently our water rates are among the lowest in West Africa.  They are and have, for many years, been insufficient to meet the necessary repairs and upgrades to our water system.  Water is free, but the supply of it is not.  This is an important concept we all have to accept.”

WATER TREATMENT PLANT AT HILL STATIONThe Backup Plan is designed to link with longer term solutions identified under the President’s Recovery Priorities which address infrastructural needs and institutional strengthening.

February 27, 2017

US$ 13 Million OPEC Fund loan signed …3 Towns Water Projects

by Mustapha Sesay

In an effort to further provide improved access to adequate, safe and reliable water supply and public sanitation services in the country, Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Jongopie S. Stevens has, on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, signed a loan agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

The OFID loan of US$13 Million is an additional funding to a three towns water supply and sanitation project in Bo, Kenema and Makeni with the African Development Bank and was co-financed by OFID in 2011.

Despite its broad objectives coupled with recent setbacks in the country, Ambassador Stevens said the initially approved project has since been completed, adding that, even though the project achieved an output of 184 km of distribution network, there are still large areas of the three cities that are not covered.

“The population of the three cities is now about 550,000, an increase of nearly 180,000 people,” he noted and further emphasized the need for an extension of the facilities hence the additional financing of US$13Million as supplementary funds to the project, to cover additional activities targeting areas that were not included initially.

Shortly after the signing ceremony, OFID Director-General, Mr. Suleiman J. AI-Herbish, renewed his organization’s interest in further strengthening cooperation with Sierra Leone. He said access to adequate, safe and reliable water supply and public sanitation services in the three towns of Bo, Kenema and Makeni will contribute to improved sanitation in schools, health centers and other public places.

“It is estimated that thousands of people living in these areas would benefit from the completed project,” he affirmed.

Since the cooperation between Sierra Leone and OFID started in 1976, the latter has extended eighteen loans to Sierra Leone. The total value has reached USD 150 million. The approved loans supported education, energy, transport, water supply and sanitation sectors.

OFID had also contributed to the reduction of Sierra Leone’s debt under the HIPC Initiative, thereby allowing the release of funds for the development of vital social sector projects. The country has also benefited from OFID Grants aimed at both Regional and National Programs.

 

h-e-jongopie-s-stevensfsignes-loan-agreement-with-the-opec

Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Jongopie S. Stevens  signes a loan agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) in Vienna, Austria

February 27, 2017

WATER CRISIS- PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES THREE WATER BILLS

By Mustapha Sesay

Sierra Leone

The Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources has been discussing three significant water bills, aimed at adequate provision and supply of clean water for the people of Sierra Leone.

The Pre-legislative engagement attracted international partners in the water sector, Members of Parliament, officials from the Ministry of Water Resources, including its agencies and stakeholders working on the improvement of the water sector in the country. The meeting adequately discussed the merits and demerits, through presentations by experts so as to better prepare Members of Parliament to make an informed decision during their impending debate before the three water bills are eventually passed into law.

The three bills are the Sierra Leone Water Company Act of 2017, the Guma Valley Water Company Act 2017 and the National Water Resources Management Act 2017, all aimed at providing for the efficient management and the use of the country’s water resources.

The three bills as presented were appreciated by MPs, who promised to give them considerable thought and attention for enactment.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources, Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma commended the Ministry of Water Resources and its agencies for putting the necessary documents in place, with the view of addressing the challenging issues plaguing the management of the country’s water resources.

He promised to collaborate with agencies that are working in the sector, whose primary objective is to clear its current bottlenecks.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Leonard Fofanah and the Minority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, welcomed the initiative of the Ministry in its transformational drive to reform the management of the water sector.  The Minister of Water Resources, Momodu  Maligi, earlier  outlined the advantages these bills will bring to the economy of the country.

water-billsparliament Discusses Water Bills