By Mustapha Sesay
As we enter the Post 2015, there is the need to reflect briefly on the reasons why most developing nations encountered a lot of challenges in meeting the target set for the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals were established by few experts and not much popularity was accorded it until the tail end when most African states were busy rushing with its programs. Unlike the Sustainable Developmental Goals, it is mainly deliberate by larger group of experts
One remarkable feature of the SDGs, is that no sooner it was adopted, its popularization has kicked off.
It is with this back drop that one can state that both developing nations and developed ones are currently setting the stage for the implementation of the three dimensional aspects of the SDGs, namely the Social, Economic and Environmental aspect to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions, combating inequality within and among countries, preserving the planet, creating sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and fostering social inclusion.
In the area of the water sector, adopting the 5Ps, theory; ”: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership-would ensure that access to pure and affordable water becomes a reality for both the rich and the poor.
Looking at the Participatory Approach, the citizens are not only going to have a saying in the water service delivery system in their communities, but will also get ownership of the project. That is they take part in the development process, they monitor and evaluate each stage of development.
Let us look at this scenario. Last week Friday, a presentation of the national budget in the walls of parliament was read by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Kaifala Marah, the money allocated to each ministry was read out and the projects to be undertaken were also spelt out.
Under the water sector. the three urban towns water project, the Taiama-Njala Water Service delivery system and a host of others were listed.
My take here is the Taiama- Njala Water Service System, I did an investigation some times back on this topic, before the rebel war, residents of this town had pipe born water flowing and one just had to open the tap in their houses, and then water was ready for drinking.
Over twenty years now, access to pipe born water is a nightmare, so most have been accustomed to the Taia River, children spend most of their time at the Taia River while the structure and machinery spare parts are stolen and sold as scraped metal.
Now that come 2016, this project is going to kick off, there is need for the citizens to be involved at all stages.
The people must know the budget for the work, the timeline for its completion and must be involved and assigned responsible positions so that they will help to protect the facilities.
As most have been accustomed to drinking the Taia River or spending must times at this place, it is expected that the Parliamentarian, Local Councils, youth groups and elders begin to educate the people on the need to connect to the main source of the water service delivery system, pay their water rates and take ownership of it. The reason being that many will say, we have the river flowing so there is no need to pay for water service in our town as it happened sometime back in the Kambia District.
They must be convinced that the quality of the pipe born water is far more preferable to that of the polluted river.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
In the water sector, it is the right of the marginalized in the remote areas to have access to water. It is hoped that slum areas that are starving will be catered for now with the expansion of water facilities to the rural areas, there is the need for boreholes to be constructed where the pipe born water is not accessible and householders must be ready to pay a particular rate that would be used to upkeep the facilities and payment of the caretakers.
The environment plays a key role in the sustainability of any water service delivery system.
Laws must be enforced to protect these areas and the people encouraged to plant trees to address the issues of climate changes that is currently posing serious challenge to our struggling water dams. It is unfortunate that while the Ministry of Agriculture is embarking on tree planting activities at community level, some of the Foresters stand to be accused of encouraging people to embark on felling of trees and unhealthy practice that are exposing the soil to land degradation. A typical example is the Forest Reserve at Okra Hill where massive deforestation has been done by people without replanting trees. As a way of addressing this issue, bye laws by the community elders must enforced and government must levy heavy fines and punishment on those involved in these illegal act of logging.
Access to Information is necessary for the growth and development of any institution. In the water sector, most people are ignorant of the laws relating to access to water.
These laws are enshrined in the constitution, but very little is made know to the masses. With this, there is the need for massive sensitization on these laws on media, community radio discussions, workshops, and engagement of the locals at all levels.
It is believed that in a situation where the citizens are grounded on the laws governing some of these institutions then the more, the people will be in a position to abide with them.
Today, the Commission of the Right to Access Information has been established so it must be seeing that this body makes its presence felt at all levels so that the information on sensitive issues get to the grassroots people.
Another body that helps in keeping the public in touch with the activities of Government of the Open Government Partnership that provides a platform for the people in their communities to ask their parliamentarians, government officials and contractors on their activities. It is believed that when these bodies operate independently, and in the interest of the country rather than political interest, the Post 2015 will transform the lives and community of the masses.