Archive for ‘Sierra Leone’

November 21, 2015

The influence of Integrity in promoting SDGs in the Water Sector

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 Marafreeh, 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.

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.

October 28, 2015

Fighting Corruption in the Water Sector

By Mustapha

IMG-20151026-WA0008Most people are of the notion that water is a free gift in the country and one should not pay a cent to afford it whilst the Government holds the notion that to maintain water service delivery sustainability, the masses must be in a position to pay water rates and other charges so as to pay workers, secure more machines, and also to repair and construct more water resources.
This area of conflict is posing adverse effects on the operations of the Water Resource Ministry in ensuring that the people, especially the poor that are in deprived communities, are accorded pure and affordable drinking.
As a result of this gap between the rich and the poor in accessing water, there is a lot of social, economic and environmental impacts on water resource management.
As the struggle between the rich who can opt for all means to secure water at all times, and the struggling poor, some business water companies and some officials are having a field day in embarking on corrupt practices that is affecting the water service delivery system in various parts of the country.
It is a common practice for the youths to either divert the flow of water from the main resources to the households by illegally using rubber pipes and charging inhabitants or the less privileged to pay money that go into their pockets while those paying their bills go without the service for some time. This situation has degenerated to a point that in broad daylight along the major streets of the city people are visible with cans or buckets in their hands destroying the pipes to scoop water. The unfortunate aspect of this situation is that most of these pipes are located in drainages that are very filthy or with poor sewage facilities, thereby polluting of the drinking water or serving as breading grounds for the transmission of water born diseases.
This issue can be addressed if effective monitoring mechanism is instituted to protect the structures for effective water service delivery and educate the people on the dangers involved.
Another disheartening corrupt activity in the water sector is the act of private water companies not going through the correct processes involved before selling their products to the masses. For a water company to be accorded the right to operate in a state, it must be registered, samples of the product tested and later the structures evaluated. Today with the desire to exploit the masses, some of these private water companies after registration waste no time and start the processing and selling of untested water to the public.
Barely a week ago the Management of Family Care Water implicated the Management of Sierra Spring Water for using their brand.
According to report, the Management of Sierra Spring Company located at 27 Gordin Street, Aberdeen is currently being investigated by the Aberdeen Police Division on allegations ranging from forging and using Family Care Water Company brand to packet and sell water to the public.
This issue came to light when the Head office of Family Care was stormed by the Sierra Leone Police, the Media and some customers on the grounds that some of the water plastics sold to the public contained a lot of particles that will affect the human system.
With this dismal situation, a team from the Family Care Water Company contacted Roxy Building to inquire if there is any other organization or company in the country that had registered with that name.
As there was none, the search team mounted an investigation and on Thursday, they were able to locate a hideout at 27 Gordon Street operated by one Mr. Mohamed Turay.
In the said building, it was realized that Sierra Spring Water Company had a lot of packet Family Care Water bundles that were to be sold to the public.
The office of Standards Bureau was alerted on the issue of Sierra Spring Water Company using their brand to sell packet water to the public. Inspector Martin attached to the Water Industry of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau visited the scene and placed the company under lock and key with the message that the Manager of Sierra Spring Water Company must report on Monday 20th October, 2015 to help in the investigations.
The Management is to explain how they acquired the brand of Family Care Water plastic, the process of registration to establish a water company and other relevant documents.
Visiting the scene of crime on Saturday, a key stakeholder (name withheld) disclosed that indeed he has been operating the place before, but due to hard times he stopped business and decided to rent the place to Sierra Spring Company. In a situation where they are being implicated in using the brand of Family Care, that is not an issue for him to comment on.
Speaking to the Public Relations Office of Standards Bureau Mr. Abu B. Bah on the said issue, it was revealed that when the matter was brought to their attention, Inspector Elvis Mohamed Koroma was dispatched to the crime scene and the following findings were made; the Management of Sierra Spring headed by one Mohamed Turay was using the plastic roll (sachet) of Family Care Water Company to packet.
It was realized that the packet water sold by Sierra Spring was not tested at the Standards Bureau so the officer was left with no option but to seal the door with the serial code 000995/000971.
Already samples have been collected for analysis and this will lead to police investigation and charging of the matter to court. All efforts made to get the side of the Manager of Sierra Spring Water Company.
This problem can be addressed if Standard Bureau embarks on massive on the spot check of these water companies to ensure that they comply with the laid down procedures at all times and defaulters fined or have their licenses sized.
In the area of awarding contract for the establishment of bore holes or standing pipes in many places, during the dry season, most of these facilities are non functional on the grounds that the contractors failed to actually reached the water level.
In a situation where this happens especially in the provincial areas, most of the pipes are either sold to scrap metal business people or criminals have a field day with these equipment.
If such a situation is to be addressed, credible contractors that have vast ideas in drilling for water must be awarded the right to undertake such a venture.

October 13, 2015

Urbanisation’s impact on the Water Resource Management

By Mustapha Sesay

The incidence of Landslide, heavy storm, flooding and pollution in urban areas or the cities are being viewed by many as a result of man’s unplanned activities on the natural resources.
The rapid growth of the urban population in Sierra Leone could be linked to the Rebel War Era, when there was forced migration of the rural communities to the cities and other provincial towns, thereby putting considerable pressure on the resources and facilities in these places.
At the end of the war, most of the youths deliberatly refused returning to the villages to continue their farming as some were engaged in petty trading while in the camps.
As most were unskilled or could not secure a decent office job, including the high cost of renting houses, the option to many was to reside in the slum areas (along the coastal areas or mountanious regions) that were overcrowded and lacked the basic facilities.
During that period, there was massive deforestation as some turned to the buring of coal, cutting mangrove wood, as the government was more focused on fighting the war rather than with administrative issues.
With this, many took the advantage of even banking the swamps or the watershed areas to build their houses.
As tress in protected forest areas were cut down, houses sprouted up along the hills exposing the land to environmental hazards.
In the city of Freetown, a lot of challenges were envisaged by the Guma Valley Dam that supplies the city and its environs with pure drinking water.
The water service delivery mechanism was not effective as the population trippled the targeted number that the dam was to provide affordable water for. The pipe lines were obstructed (cut) by the marginalized population to scoop water, thereby depriving those that were paying water bills for their houses.
This in other words deprived the government of the needed income to generate in meeting the cost of water service delivery.
The situation was worsened by the lack of effective policy implementation to halt this negative practice of misusingpost onepost two the water service distribution to various destinations.
With the growth of the urban population, there was massive encroachment of the water catchment areas, more so in places closer to the dams which in turn exposed the water reservoirs to a high rate of evaporation, pollution and deforestation.
At the end of the war, several sensitization programs by the government and key stakeholders were conducted to raise the awareness on the implications of man’s negative activities on the environment and its implications.
Most activities like deforestation, land degradation, pollution, and unplanned construction exposed the country to a lot of natural disasters like the recent flooding in many parts of the country, including the one that hit the city of Freetown on 16th September, 2015
The 16th September flooding was one the worst ever recorded in the history of the country. As confirmed reports indicated, eight people lost their lives and properties worth billions were destroyed.
Although there are plans to relocate these affected communities on the outskirts of the city, we are yet to see if they will not go back to the same disaster prone areas as it had happened in the past.
Urbanization is a challenging issue for government and stakeholders in meeting the needs of these slum places especially in implementing laws that would halt man’s activities to protect and preserve the environment and ensure effective water governance structural operations.
Though people are aware of the relevance of the preservation of the mangrove swamps, yet the demand to own a house has forced many to destroy these places and bank them to build houses.
On the hill slopes and water catchment areas tree felling and indiscriminate construction work exposed the land to environmental hazards while the dams are subjected to pollution, evaporation and water shortage.
The aspect of deforestation is a concern as the country continues to experience heavy storms that destroy houses in many parts of the country whilst boulders rolled down the mountains to destroy houses and lives.
Although the Ministry of Agriculture is making frantic efforts in the communities to plant trees not much has been done towards that drive.
The growth of the urban population is impacting on the quality of the water and health and sanitation facilities in our communities.
In slum areas, the indiscriminate digging of boreholes without taking cognizance of safety precautions is a concern as most of these places are dug closer to poor sewage facilities. Poor water service delivery will affect the health status of the masses as it will serve as a breeding ground for the transition of water born diseases.
To address the impact of urbanization of the utilization of the natural resources, there is the need to re-examine our laws governing the construction of unplanned structures in the slum areas or national protected areas and put mechanisms in place to halt this type of practice.
It is good to ensure that at each stage of the deliberations, the stakeholders are involved so that their input will help to prevent residing in disaster prone areas.
The Line Ministries like Housing, Lands, Water and Agriculture must collaborate in ensuring that the safety of the people is a must in implementing policies with regards to housing water service delivery and environmental practices.
Water is a basic human right, as a result structures must be put in place to ensure that deprived communities are catered for.
It must be noted that in a situation where this is not met there is bound to be local conflict between the people and the providers.
It would be good in the interest of all to be planting trees in our communities and farms as this will help in halting natural disasters and provide the much needed water reserve.

May 26, 2015

As we scoop from a crack water reservoir Water scarcity the Order of the Day

As we scoop from a crack water reservoir
Water scarcity the Order of the Day
By Mustapha Sesay

How long will the city of Freetown continue to depend on a dying water reservoir to provide clean and affordable water for over one million of its inhabitants that are living in deprived communities in various parts of the city.
Every year at the peak of the dry season, access to pure and affordable water, is a very serious problem that authorities at the Water Ministry and the Guma Valley Water Company have not been able to address despite the erection of water tanks in various parts of the city and the setting up of a commission to regulate the supply and distribution of water in the country.
One major reason for this is that as a result of man’s activities, the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to the uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities in the Peninsular. Such activities include the use of the power saw machines for the cutting of trees and other vegetation around the demarcated forest reserves. the burning of wood for charcoal, construction of dwelling places, illegal sale of land, and mining construction at quarries by multi national companies
With this water crisis, children and women continue to bear the brunt associated with fetching water from one part of the city to the next. At the points where few available tapes are running, people cluster in long lines waiting for hours or throughout the nights to secure gallons of water for domestic consumption. It is like keeping a vigil throughout the night as some of these places are so congested that some would hang around these places while others would be busy forcing their way to acquire water. This to many has a lot to do with the spreading of various diseases more so the Ebola Virus diseases as people in their quest to force their way into the crowd have no option but to have bodily contact.
The peak of the dry season is a crucial moment for Sierra Leoneans to trek for water as the hot burning sun is responsible for excessive consumption or use of water in the homes. This inability of the stakeholders to ensure that the population have access to clean and affordable water at this time has exposed the dying water reservoir that we still depend on rather than finding alternative dams outside the city of Freetown as there is massive construction of dwellings places at the Guma Valley catchment and Babadorie reservoir thereby exposing the pipes to adverse conditions. The Babadorie Reservoir is far below the water level as the Sugar Loaf Water Reserve is dried up and cannot supply water to the dam.

It is a year now since I made a tour of the various water dams and the Guma Valley water system that provides water to the city.
During my visitation, it was heart bleeding to see the deplorable nature of our dams and water system that is not only polluted by the burning of the forest around these areas and the rubbish contaminating the water but also the massive encroachment of the land around these areas resulting in deforestation and rapid evaporation of the water from the dams.
It is unfortunate that majority of the inhabitants of the city cannot make it to some of these places where these dried up dams are to see for themselves so that they have an insight of where the city is heading if immediate measures are not put in place now to ensure that we are talk with one voice of addressing the trouble as the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. .
Many a time, people are been busy talking about the construction of a new dam. That one is in place but with investigation conducted, one can state that although it is a proposed site, there is already encroachment of this place and most of those involved are not the poor and marginalized but the wealth who have the influence to have their way in everything.
The issue of digging bore holes in the city must be given a lot of consideration as there is the possibility of doing so closer to pit toilets. The city is so congested with poor sewage facilities even in the heart of the city where there are reports of sewage overflowing the streets.
Speaking with some stakeholders about these controlled and unresolved problems, the same old stories are narrated like, operating old dams, cutting of pipes, increase in the population, encroachment of land around the catchment areas and a host of others but the actual solution is still unresolved.
We are aware that water is life and a natural gift. There is the need for measures to be put in place to protect and improve on the water supply system.
Awareness should be raised to stop the encroachment on the catchment areas and ensure and those found wanting must be punished and property sized so as to discourage others.
If Freetown is to address the issue of water scarcity, we must now be thinking on new dams outside the city of Freetown. WATER TREATMENT PLANT AT HILL STATION

May 25, 2015

Guma Valley faces Parliament … Over Poor Water Supply in Freetown

Guma Valley faces Parliament
… Over Poor Water Supply in Freetown
By Mustapha Sesay

Officials of the Guma Valley Water Company were before the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Water Recourses on Thursday 21st May 2015 to update the Committee on activities undertaken in 2014 and why the company is yet to supply sufficient water to the city.
The company is tasked with the responsibility of providing sustainable water supply to the residents of Freetown and its environs. There have been lots of complaints over the years about the company not competent enough to meet its obligations to the nation.
Chaired by Hon. Sualiho Monyaba Koroma, the Water Resources Committee summoned the management of GUMA Valley Water Company at Committee Room 1 in Parliament.
The briefing according to the Chairman was the first time the management of GUMA had met with the entire membership of the Committee since it was reconstituted in the Third Session of the Fourth Parliament. He recalled that such engagements last year resulted in an oversight of GUMA’s existing facilities. He also assured the Management of GUMA not to feel intimated as the Committee was performing its oversight function, which findings and recommendations would be tabled and debated in Parliament for necessary action in the attendance of the respective MDAs.
He furthered, that the briefing was not meant to witch-hunt anyone, but to sincerely discuss their status report; as MPs had a lot of water related issues in their constituencies in Freetown.
In his briefing to the Committee, the General Manager of Guma Valley Water Company, Mr. Bankole Mansaray, said that he was excited to come to Parliament and described it as a routine exercise every year. He referred to Parliament as an integral partner to assist in solving the challenging water situation faced with Freetown. He also said that GUMA needed the support of politicians because if they failed in their duties; politicians would receive immense pressure from their constituents. He said that GUMA’s flagship dam at Mile 13 had a leakage problem with its square valve which had been purchased by DFID four years ago but it is yet to be replaced because of the risk involved, and efforts are being made to get a company from UK to do the replacement of the valve, the gadget that is used to clear the debris at a dam that is 850 feet above sea level. He called for the review of the GUMA Act, and told MPs that GUMA is receiving subvention from Government; and they paid for chemicals purchased for use at the water treatment works.
Most of the issues discussed during the course of the meeting relate to the Committee visiting existing GUMA facilities; GUMA water sources in terms of daily supply, retention and distribution of water to customers, a review of the GUMA Act, alternative water sources at Wellington and other areas, the effects of water packaging companies in the East and the need to reduce them, regular water supply to Parliament, the protection of water sources from encroachment and deforestation, water tariffs, replacement of old and damaged pipes, the use of PVC pipes as against metal pipes, water engineering and taps use of meters, improvement of community water sources and use of bowsers, who controls GUMA among the Ministry of Water Resources, NCP, Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, and heavy capital investments for GUMA to provide clean and sustainable pipe borne water for residents in Freetown.
The Chairman resolved at the end of the meeting that the Committee had a further dialogue with GUMA, NCP, Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, EPA, the Ministries of Lands, Works, and other stakeholders to chart the way forward.

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

October 15, 2014

Global Hand washing day

Global Hand washing day

WASH Media Network joins the world over to mark this day

By Mustapha Sesay

Today is Global Hand Washing Day, a day set aside by the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday October 15, 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, and Global Hand-washing Day, which stresses the need to reinforce call for improved hygiene practices.
In the light of the above, Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone, a member of the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network (a sub regional organization) , is joining the Water Integrity Network, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborating Council, IRC and West Africa Water Aid to observe this day.
As schools are yet to re-open for the start of the 20142015 Academic year, WASH Media Network members will be out to some of the communities in Freetown and in the provincial areas to continue reaffirming the significance of holding fast to the correct methods of washing hands and the its vital place to the health of the children.
It must be noted that most of the diseases that affect children are related to the poor environment and bad sanitation practices in our homes or communities countrywide. One among the outstanding odd health practices is that doing with children not washing hands before partaking of any food. This has continued to offer place to cholera and dysentery among the common diseases in record. Added to this issue is the fact that most children including adults find it difficult to use water and soap after visiting the toilet.
The ramification of this bad health practice could not be unconnected to the 2012 Cholera outbreak in the country, which started in the Northern part of Sierra Leone and spread across its regions within two months. That period heightened the need to wash hands with soap as that was among the primary preventive methods since Cholera itself is water borne.
Shanty towns and slum communities were among the places that suffered the brunt of the 2012 Cholera outbreak.
Unfortunately, few months after the outbreak, people neglected the significance of washing hands with soap after taking part in any activity. This negligence went on until it was officially announced in May that Ebola had broken out in the country and that it expedient that people reverse to the traditional hand-washing method since the Ebola virus is a contagious disease.
While the number of those who believe in the reality of Ebola has increased considerably, however, there is still sparks of remote cases of those who deny its existence and refrain from following the laid down health rules.
Meanwhile, hand washing is paramount to a healthy society and it is on this note that October 15th has been set aside to reflect on responsiveness of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
With the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Sub-region, school authorities in the region would use this opportunity to teach millions of children about this day. School authorities and parents must also ensure that water and soap are always at strategic positions for members to wash their hands.
Let’s keep Cincinnati healthy by becoming Champion Handwashers! As an expert rightly said, “Clean hands save lives”, a driving theme for Global Handwashing Day. Children should continue to act as agents of change, taking the good practices of hygiene learned at school back into their homes and communities.

September 1, 2014

Free town Peninsula Community benefits from Hybrid Electrification Plant

By Mustapha Sesay, Water &Sanitation Media Network S/L

Energy supply is a key to the socio-economic development of any community or state.

In many developing countries, many depend on either Hydro power electrification or thermal plant.

It is a new concept in the minds of most people to talk of a hybrid plant using both water supply in the rains and solar plant in the dry season to provide electricity supply for community people especially in remote or rural areas.

In Sierra Leone, one area along the Freetown Peninsular that can now boast of this new development is the No. 2 River Community.

Despite the poor status of the road network to getting to this area, it is a tourist resort centre, nice beaches, vegetation and a lot of water shed to keep the turbines in operation.


Prior to the develop of this hybrid electrification plant, the Pioneers Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH

It is in this drive that Welt Hunger Heilf WHH undertook a study on the identification of over sixty water sheds along the Freetown Peninsula and the need to preserve them for the sustainability of water supply to the western urban and rural district.

With the collaboration of the European Union and other organization, one of the watershed was developed and protected to provide pipe born water supply for the No. Two River Community.

With more potentials for this community, Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH strived very hard to ensure that most communities benefit from rural power electrification and water supply.

Tuesday, 5th August, 2014 witnessed another milestone for this community as they were the first in the country to witness the commissioning of a Hybrid Electrification plant that will supply twenty hours of electricity during the Rainy and Dry Seasons.

This remarkable development was graced by the Energy Minister and Deputies, development partners, tribal heads and dignitaries,.

As a sign of gratitude for bringing development to their community, the Head of No. 2 River. Abu Bakraa Turam Conteh commended Welt Hunger Hilfe, the European Union, the Government and all who in diverse ways have contributed towards the completion of the project and prayed that more would be done so as to sustain and extend the project to other communities.

Mr. Conteh further revealed that the development of energy technology plays an important role in the drive towards self sufficiency and called on the people to embrace the development at their doorstep.

The Country Director for Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH Jochen Moniger said in 2011, the project started with the identification of watersheds so as to facilitate the supply of water to the communities.  With much improvement, the organization later saw the need to work out modalities for the provision of electricity supply.

With the commitment of the people work progressed on a sound footing as they were always prepared to render valuable services at all times.

The Hybrid Electrification is one of the best of its kind. During the Dry Season, the Solar plant generates electricity for the people of Number Two River as the water level drops considerably while in the Rainy Season, it is the opposite, the mini hydro-plant  generates twenty hours of electricity for the people.

He further stressed that as a way of sustaining the project, the people must be prepared to secure prepared meters and pay their bills so that the money would be spent on running and maintenance cost.

With the new hybrid power plant in operation now, this would help promote developmental programmes within the No Two River community, facilitate the efforts of the children to study at home, halt the noise generators have been making in the neighbourhood and even the black smoke they ooze.

As a sea side resort, this would help promote tourism in the area and this in turn would boost the employment of youths and facilitate trade opportunities.

Special commendation was made to the European Union funded project for intervening in the water supply system for drinking and other purposes.

The Minister of Energy Mr. Thomas  Macauley commended Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH and partners for such a laudable venture as it is in line with the vision of President Koroma to ensure that electricity is visible in all parts of the country.

According to him, the commissioning  of the Hybrid Electrification plant at No Two River signified the good work of the organization as without light, development would be at a standstill.

The Minister admonished all to reflect on the prominent role of light in our societies, namely its importance in the hospitals, factories, industries, our homes, the internet, communication and several other aspects.

The Energy Minister went on to state that it is but fitting that a similar projects are replicated in various parts of the country.

With the commissioning  of the Hybrid Electrification project by the Minister, a tour was made to the plant facilities where both the hydro plant and the Solar plant were inspected.

This was followed by a demonstration of the new plant supplying the township with light that was embraced by the people.

According to Moses Kamara, a Cinema Operator, this is one of the opportunities they have been longing for as it would help to curtail the fuel shortage that had adversely hit their business. He hoped that with this development, customers at his cinema would now get the much needed satisfaction, more so when international matches are being played.

Marie Cole, a trader praised Welt Hunger Heilf WHH and all the partners that have contributed towards the growth and development of their community.

We must noted that Sierra Leoneans in the south and eastern part of the country use to boast of the Dodo Dam that provided electricity in the rains while the Bo-Kenema Power Station provided electricity during the dries. Today, this glory is lost as people in that part of the country are married to ‘BLACKOUT’

ONE major reason for the drop in the water supply is the destruction of the watershed or catchment areas for timber and other purposes.

In the city of Freetown, the struggle for water continues as the Guma Valley Dam and other catchment areas continue to suffer from extensive deforestation.

In a situation where stringent measures are not put in place, most of the watershed areas would be destroyed and this would affect the supply of hydro electricity and water supply to most communities.


May 22, 2014

Zambia hosts first African Water Integrity Learning Summit

By Mustapha Sesay, Water & Sanitation Media Network S/L    

AS a way of working towards an “Accelerating Water Secure World, the Water Integrity Network has concluded its first African Water Integrity workshop in Zambia Lusaka from 29-30 April,2014.

Through partnership with ECOWAS, EAC-Lake Victoria Basin Commission and SADC, the programmed trained around 500 water professionals.

This first African Water Integrity Summit brought together 90 experts and stakeholders from 22 African countries

and 30 in total, to share their experiences, lessons learned and identify integrity challenges as we move forward.

To build a water secure future for all, the summit finds


Stakeholders across the regions have successfully pioneered initiatives for more integrity, sometimes in the face of strong resistance. Their courageous actions have created visible improvements for the benefit of their communities and societies at large. Decision-makers at the highest level should take note of their successes, demonstrate clear commitment

to the promotion of water integrity, support integrity ambassadors and ensure that anti-corruption policies are developed, and effectively implemented. Condemning corruption in public is not sufficient when implementation and enforcement of rules is neglected, undermined or obstructed at the same time.

The challenges posed by depleting water resources are; fast population growth and urbanization, rapid destruction of productive aquatic ecosystems and climate change all threaten to overwhelm water management systems. Managing and maintaining the integrity of water resources is part and parcel of managing water with integrity.


As water is a fundamental resource for sustainable development. It is essential to economic growth, to eradicate poverty, to secure water, food and energy for a rapidly growing population and sustaining ecosystems for future generations. In most countries, water crises are not due to resource scarcity but primarily due to governance failures. Fragmented institutions obstruct accountability

in a sector with high investment and aid flows, making it particularly vulnerable to corruption. Lack of water-related integrity

incurs huge cost for societies, in lives lost, stalling growth, wasted talent and degraded resources. There is no sustainability without integrity.

The extent of the African water challenge was summarized in AMCOW’s 2012 snapshot: 344 million people in Africa rely on unimproved water sources. Corruption drains billions from the water sector, while more than 300 million people in sub Saharan.

Africa live in water-scarce environments and 115 people die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water.

In 2000, the African Water Vision 2025 named inappropriate governance and institutional arrangements as one core ‘human threat’ to sustainable water management: The vision called for fundamental changes in policies, strategies and institutional arrangements, for the adoption of participatory approaches, as well as for openness, transparency and accountability in decision making processes. The importance of good water governance has been recognized in the preparations of the Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs), in numerous international and regional declarations and conventions, as well as in stakeholder for a including the 6th World Water Forum, the Water Integrity Forum 2013 and the OECD Water Governance Initiative.

The UNDP-Water Governance Facility together with its partners UNDP Cap-Net, WaterNet, WIN and SIWI, implemented the 3-year Regional Capacity Building Programme promoting and developing water integrity in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2011-2014.

Ongoing water reforms in many countries and regions in Africa offer a unique opportunity to improve the integrity of

the water sector. Poverty and vulnerability to corruption are fundamentally linked; and integrity is a condition for financially viable and sustainable water service delivery. Therefore, water security, poverty eradication and economic growth can only be achieved if water policies go hand in hand with promoting integrity. Water integrity should be mainstreamed

in all sector policies and institutions, in legislation, regulation at various levels, in investment projects and

programmes, and in business models in water service provision. Organizations, including our own, need to consider water integrity in the development of organizational policies, strategies and action plans

Participation of informed stakeholders and a strong civil society are driving forces for change towards integrity. Water governance has to be inclusive, actively carry the debate to weak stakeholders, and address the opportunities and challenges that come with the inclusion of the private sector. Data and information should be freely accessible, understandable and usable, as the basis of transparency and accountability. Clear results frameworks and integrity indicators need to be developed to support both decision making, and to monitor integrity levels. Basic standards of financial management and accounting should be required and enforced by all donors and fund providers as a condition for their support.

The lack of integrity reflects a multi-dimensional capacity gap across all African regions: gaps in basic skills and capacities of local communities, needed for meaningful participation, in professional skills for informed decision making and efficient service delivery, and in technical skills for dedicated integrity professionals tasked with developing organizational frameworks, enforcing rules and building organizational cultures. Beyond personal capacities, institutional capacities present a significant bottleneck and hamper the ability of national and regional bodies to effectively coordinate their efforts. Investment in capacity development is required across all levels, for communities, policy-makers, administrators, water professionals and the private sector. The momentum created by the regional capacity development programme should be translated into a sustained movement and expanded to neighboring regions.

Integrity challenges go beyond corruption. Integrity affects water governance in terms of who gets what water, when

and how. Lack of integrity undermines how costs and benefits are distributed among individuals, society and the environment.

It also increases transaction cost, and discourages appropriate investment in infrastructure. Procedures that ensure integrity are not for free; continuous communication of rights and processes to stakeholders is critical to enforce rules in big investment projects, as is real-time monitoring of infrastructure to uncover problems. But investments in integrity can reap high returns in improved revenues, efficiency gains, increased investment and growth.Regional bodies are well placed to act as drivers of change; raising awareness; linking and harmonizing efforts across regions; support capacity development, and nourish political will in member countries. They play a critical role in advocating

for the inclusion of water integrity in international and regional fora, including AMCOW, the 7th World Water Forum, and the international consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Future capacity development efforts should also include regional technical agencies and implementing bodies such as regional development banks, transboundary river basin organizations and regional courts.

The costs of inaction are too high to remain passive. The Summit and its partners call on governments, regional bodes and international organizations, the corporate sector and civil society to promote water integrity. The regional programme has laid the groundwork for capacities in the regions; now the momentum created by the first generation of African water integrity ambassadors need to be maintained, sustained and nourished, and build upon to ensure a water secure world for all.


April 12, 2014

Freetown Water Sector in Coma: Who will remedy the situation?

By Mustapha Sesay, WASH Journalists Network S/L

Whilst our politicians are busy with sugar coated words on improving the water sector, the actual picture on the ground about water service delivery in the capital is bleak and until urgent measures are put in place, the city will one day wake up to find that all the taps have finally run dry.

Making an on the spot visit to the various dams and treatment sites that provide drinking water to the capital city and its environs by a team of Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change (CAW-SL) headed by Charles Mambu, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staff of the Water Sector and the Media on 13/3/2014, one was astonished to find massive deforestation along the catchment areas, encroachment on the land for construction of houses and mining activities, pollution and the drying up of the sugar loaf dam – signals that the water sector is in a bad state.


Even though staff of the Guma Valley Water Company are advancing excuses that the dam was built a hundred years ago for a population of five hundred people, there are reasons for putting strategies in place to cater for the growing population.


The road network to the various dams and water treatment plants are not only steep and rugged but a death trap to most vehicles.

It must be noted that the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to the uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities in the Peninsular. Such activities include the use of the power saw machines for the cutting of trees and other vegetation around the demarcated forest reserves. the burning of wood for charcoal, construction of dwelling places, illegal sale of land, and mining construction at quarries by multi national companies.

The ability of the water agencies to continue supplying water is seriously undermined as a result of the exposure of the water dam to direct sunlight; this in return is a serious threat to the supply of water to the growing population in the city and its environs

At the Guma Valley catchment sites, the dam that supplies most areas in the city of Freetown, the old pipes directly linking the city with water services are not only old and exposed to rust but now subjected to wild bush fires ignited by those clearing the encroached land for various construction purposes.

Just by the gate, most of the areas have been cleared for vegetable garden and fire wood.

At the actual dam sites there is a drop in the water level.

Upon investigation, neither the staff of the water company, Lands officials nor the Foresters were in a position to state who was actually responsible for the deforestation or encroached of the catchment areas.

At the Babadorie dam at Hill Station that supplies water to the Mountain Rural areas and some parts of the west end of the city and Pademba Road, the situation is very alarming as the dam is not only unprotected but partly dried up.

I was informed by staff of the water company that before now two dams, namely the Tacugama  Dam and the Sugar Loaf, have been supplying water to the Babadorie treatment plant for the Mountain Road areas.

Today, the Sugar Loaf Dam is dried up and even the Tacugama Dam is supplying water at snail’s pace, resulting in a drastic drop in the supply of water to the mountain rural areas and most areas in the city

The structures and ashes from the massive bushfires around the dams and treatment plants are dangerous to the survival of the plant.


There is all the possibility for the houses overlooking the dam at Babadorie easy to contaminate the water as a result of the poor sewage facilities closely built to the dam.

Though staff of the water company are very quick to tell the public that plans are on the way to very soon construct new dams to address the poor water service delivery in the city that is almost housing two million people, the proposed site is currently facing challenges of encroachment and the building of houses.

One thing that stands out clearly in all this is that the masses continue to be denied access to affordable and quality drinking water while the wealthy and highly placed in the society continue to receive supplies of water from the Guma Valley Buzzers.

To the encroachers what matters is getting land at all cost and depriving the majority from getting water by building around the catchment areas.

At the Tacugama dam at Regent – Grafton, poor road network has isolated this area exposing it to all forms of activities that are drying up the dam at an alarming rate.

If with what is ongoing in the wetlands and catchment areas are not of concern to the water ministry.

Today our water sector continues to be in a state of Coma as a result of the following challenges.

Stakeholders in this sector are not in a position to give the actual picture of the demise of our water service delivered to the masses, more so when such places are isolated and dangerous places.

Their messages are always “we will soon improve on the water service delivery as we have signed contracts with partners”.

There is a lack of coordination among the staff of the water sector, foresters, lands and security agencies in protecting the catchments and land around the dams.  As a result of this, influential personalities are using this opportunity to grab land indiscriminately.

It is very difficult to see demarcated zone in these places. Punitive measures have not been instituted like the demolishing of structures or the imposition of heavy fines as a deterrent to others.

If we are to see a remedy of this dismal situation the following must now be put in place.

The security officers operating in these areas must be increased and empowered to arrest all those engaged in illegal activities.

There should be mass demolition of all houses around the catchment and forest reserved areas.

The officials of the water sector must give out regularly the correct picture of the status of the water system to the public.

There should also be massive education of the public on the adverse effects of encroachment and deforestation of our reserved forest areas and wetlands.

If Freetown is to address the issue of water scarcity, it is now time to protect and preserve our water catchment areas, construct new dams and embark on massive awareness campaign on the effects of man’s activities on the environment.

April 12, 2014


BY Mustapha Sesay 

The current status of the water service delivery in the city of Freetown will become acute if urgent measures are not put in place to halt the massive encroachment of land in the catchment areas.

A team from the Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change, the Deputy Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Staff of Guma Valley Water Company, SLAWACO, Staff of the Forestry Division, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Media made a visit on Thursday, 13th March, 2014 to dams and treatment sites.

The visit to the Guma Valley Water Company, Tacugama reservour and the Babadorie sites was to get firsthand information on the environmental hazards plaguing our catchment areas.

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

Drop in Guma Valley Water Level

It must be noted that the ecosystem and the biodiversity in the Freetown Peninsular are vanishing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to the uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities in the Peninsular. Such activities include the use of the power saw machines for the cutting of trees and other vegetation around the demarcated forest reserves. the burning of wood for charcoal, construction of dwelling places, illegal sale of land, and mining construction at quarries by multi national companies.

The ability of the water agencies to continue supplying water is seriously undermined as a result of the exposure of the water dam to direct sunlight; this in return is a serious threat to the supply of water to the growing population in the city and its environs.

At the Guma Valley catchment and Babadorie reservoir it was alarming to note that a massive construction of dwellings is ongoing and not only on state land and this exposes the pipes to adverse conditions. The Babadorie Reservoir is far below the water level as the Sugar Loaf Water Reserve is dried up and cannot supply water to the dam.

At Tacugama , it was also note that the water level cannot serve the majority of the populace if steps are not taken to remedy the situation.

Addressing the delegation, the Guma Valley Boss Mr. Bankole Mansaray extended his gratitude for embarking on a campaign to create awareness on the destruction caused by human activities to the Freetown Peninsular with the view that policymakers and communities take the required steps to halt the envirommental hazards.

The Head of the Environmental Protection Agency Madam Jatou Jallow stressed that water is life and a natural gift. It should be protected at all times and our duty is to raise the awareness to stop the encroachment on the catchment areas and ensure that pure water is available to Sierra Leoneans. She further recommended for very tough action to be taken against all those erection structures on the water catchment sites.

If Freetown is to address the issue of water scarcity, it is now time to protect and preserve our water catchment areas, construct new dams and embark on massive awareness campaign on the effects of man’s activities un the environment,

April 12, 2014

Corruption in the Water Sector


By Mustapha Sesay, West Africa Water Integrity Ambassador

The high rate of corruption in the Water Sector continues to have devastating effects on the lives of the deprived and marginalized communities in developing countries to the point that many die from either contamination or water related diseases.

According to the Program Manager for Water Integrity Network in Sweden Mr. James Laten, the past ten years had witnessed a period in which over thirty billion dollars US$ 30 billion fund invested in the Water Sector in developing countries go into wrong hands.

If we are to make a reverse of this dismal situation where the billions of dollars invested in the water sector is reflected in the lives of the ordinary person, there is the need to put mechanism in place to monitor water projects at all stages and heads of water institutions give account of how funds are utilized.

Today, we hears of billion of bilateral contracts signed, extravagant talk shows  and radio programmes on plans to improve  the water sector but at the end of the day, the water situation is either dismal or remains the same

How long must this situation continue where the wealthy and those highly placed in society enjoy and access pure and safe drinking tap water leaving the majority of the poor community to trek miles for just a bucket of water?  When will the deprived and marginalized on the hill top areas, the slums, camps and remote villages say “we too can now boast of pure drinking water?

When will our politicians stand by their manifestos by providing pure and affordable drinking water for their subjects?

Every day, millions are dying slowly as a result of lack of accessing pure drinking water.  At some point in time,
Governments in various places tend to shift the blame on the masses and on the other hand the masses shift the blame on the Government for not meeting its responsibilities.

The issue of accessing pure and affordable water is a fundamental human right but this is not given the much needed attention.

Corruption in the water sector is ripe and involves all classes of people ranging from the ordinary man, politicians, Heads of Water Institutions and even Non-Governmental organizations working in this sector.

Report on “Corruption in the water sector” by Water Integrity Network in a book titled “Training Manual on Water Integrity” states that in the sub-Sahara Africa, forty-four percent (44 %) of the countries are unlikely to attain the Millennium Development Goal target for drinking water eighty-five percent (85%) are unlikely to attain the sanitation aspect.

Estimate by the World Bank report suggests that twenty –forty percent (20 – 40% ) of water sector finances are being lost to dishonest practices.

Talking about corrupt practices in the water sector there are lots of reference points to make in the case of Sierra Leone.   As a result of greed and selfishness, we today tend to embark on the following activities that in turn affect the effective operation of the water service delivery system.

The process of awarding contracts for the implementation of water service delivery projects, too much concentration of water programmes in the cities rather than the rural areas even though they too are paying taxes to the Government,

Refusal to pay for water rate bills regularly to the water sector, Removal of pipes or water facilities machines parts for sale as scrap metal. Substandard projects by some contractors and the lack of transparency and accountability by some authorities and the marginalization of certain areas that already have water service delivery structures only to be rehabilitated but due to certain unknown reasons, the inhabitations continue to go for years without pipe born water and the proliferation of water industries operated in the houses of most people.

It must be noted that Kambia District is a melting pot in the country as people from all parts of the country and neighbouring Guinea converge to do a weekly trade activity. As a result of this, there is the need for a sound sanitation practise and access to pure drinking water so as to avoid the outbreak of cholera. Unfortunately when this was not adhered to, it was a breeding ground for the spread of cholera that affected the lives of many people in the country.

Kambia District, with a population (2010) of about 308,929 (Statistics Sierra Leone), has the lowest percentage (27%) of households with improved source of drinking water in the Northern region and below the national average (57%). There are 992 protected water points in the district, out of which only 549 are functional. Of the 443 non functional water points, 106 are partially damaged, while 270 are completely broken down. These non functional wells are mostly as a result of the lack of maintenance or a defined strategy of sustaining the operations of the water points.


One major excuse advanced last year was that some of the inhabitant refused the payment of Le 15,000 (Fifteen Thousand Leone) monthly water rate bill per household and that almost halted the effective operations of JICA & Sierra Leone Water project.
In Moyamba District, Kori Chiefdom Taiama, water infrastructure that had been abandoned for almost twenty years is slowly becoming a zone for scrap metals as youths are seen either climbing the tanks, the machine rooms to grab whatever they could.

Kori Chiefdom hosts the oldest provincial University in the country; Njala University  yet, access to pure and affordable drinking pipe born water is a dream to be actualized. In morning, it is survival of the fittest to get water from boreholes or wells with hand pumps.

In the city of Freetown, the search for pure and affordable water has forced many to embark on unhealthy practices at the detriment of the little water delivery service.

Though the Government intends to shift the low water service delivery in the city to the pressure on the Guma Valley Dam,  to many this is not acceptable as there are other quality dam around the city that must have been developed to supply other parts of the city. Most people who cannot get the flow of the Guma Valley water to their respective communities in the east or mountainous places cut pipes to scoop water whilst others embark on illegal connections.

It is hearts bleeding that long lines are visible around a single pipe born tap and many spent hours without getting water.  At these points, illegal fees from buckets or gallons on the grounds that the money is used for cleaning the tap.

In mountainous region of the city, precisely Allen Town or the Wilberforce area, community bore holes exist which are controlled by certain individual for which a minimum sum is paid.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that the locals lack the contents of chemicals to clean the water wells or improve on the status.

With regards to substandard work or political influence, some organizations working on the construction of water wells are under pressure to select areas closer to the houses of traditional authorities rather than looking out for ideal sites that will maintain water throughout the year.  With such poor judgment, politically influenced or substandard wells do not survive the retention of water in the dry season as a result they wells are not up to the task for which they were constructed.

Although the Acting Director of Sierra Leone Water Company SLWACO Mr. Bangura disclosed to one local media of development in the water sector, this has not still change the dismay situation of the masses as millions continue spend the rest of the day scouting for water in the city not to mention those in the remote areas of the country

The lack of access to pure water supply is still a major concern especially in the in the eastern parts of Freetown where it is either you are up till 12pm or 4am to get water. Thunder Hill is one of the most deprived communities with children abandoning their schools in search of water by using wooden trolleys to secure water on commercial basis.

Alpha Kamara, the caretaker of the Pompidou Ground well in kissy, in an interview revealed that access to pure water is still a major problem at Thunder Hill as the Pompidou Ground Well is serving hundreds of residents on a daily basis from various communities including Lowcost, Brima Lane, Portee, and Jollah Terrace among others, being the only source of water during the dry season. He nevertheless cited the poor sanitary state of the well, noting that some residents use it for drinking purposes which has a negative impact on their health.

The statement of “ we have signed contacts with companies and plans to construct modern water facilities in various parts of the country is not a news to us so we want action now.

We have already commenced a crucial period in the year, the Dry season that will witness the drying up of streams and rivers so what is the Ministry of Water Resources going to do to address this situation?



January 19, 2013

Access to clean and safe water is a big problem for rural communities in the North

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya with fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network and partnership from WaterAid, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

It is the end of the rainy season and the soil keeps drying and water losing on it. This is marking the start of the struggle to get clean and affordable drinking water for communities in remote areas of Sierra Leone. Children and their mothers are greasing up their feet and stretching up their heads to start searching for any source of water they can set eyes on for their domestic uses.

As part of a fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network, I traveled 248km North of Sierra Leone to get an information on how rural communities are coping up to access safe and clean water in their localities. On my arrival at Kamabala in the Tonkoh Limba Chiefdom of Kambia District, the situation is very much appalling seeing community of more than 7000 people struggling to fetch water from a more deplorable water source dug by an 18 year old village boy.

Clean and affordable water is now regarded as a great commodity by the international community. A 2007 statement from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights states that “it is now time to consider access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, defined as the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to a sufficient amount of safe drinking water for personal and domestic uses—drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation and personal and household hygiene—to sustain life and health. States should prioritize these personal and domestic uses over other water uses and should take steps to ensure that this sufficient amount is of good quality, affordable for all and can be collected within a reasonable distance from a person’s home.”

Madam Fudia Conteh scooping water for their domestic use in Kamabala Village. She is one of the many rural women in the North that suffers to get clean and safe drinking water for their homes

Madam Fudia Conteh scooping water for their domestic use in Kamabala Village. She is one of the many rural women in the North that suffers to get clean and safe drinking water for their homes

The statement above is not the real situation for rural communities in Sierra Leone. The water source for the Kamabala community was dug below the Bamboo canes and located down a hilly route from the village. There is no electricity to help purify water in major provincial communities in the country and digging a well in Bamboo trees like this will certainly help get natural coldness of water for the community. A visit and sit of half an hour made me to see more than 100 women and children struggling to fetch water in the well.

The distance is about 200 meters from the last house in the community and during the raining season, all the debris and filthy including human wastes from the community are transported to this downstream valley. The dung beetles are rolling balls of human feces whilst the flies are dancing around and singing praises to a child who has just deposited some human wastes about 5 feet from the water well.

The local water-village-savior, Sieh M Dumbuya attending the Wesleyan Secondary School, Kamabala has been searching for water points during the past years and “when I discovered that people have started to suffer for clean and affordable water, I came to this water-find which I believe will serve a long way this year” he said. All residents in the Kamabala Community depend on this water for both their drinking and domestic use as confirmed by Sieh and the Chief of the community. Sieh said he dug the well so that he can save the health problem of the community.

Even the school going children like Rugiatu get the taste of water shortage in Kamabala, Northern Sierra Leone

Even the school going children like Rugiatu get the taste of water shortage in Kamabala, Northern Sierra Leone

A 45 year old Fudia Conteh said “this water source will soon dry up and after such; we will start to fetch water at the tap provided through the assistance of a local NGO in the district.

But all these taps are not reliable for the community. The Banekeh River is dividing Kambia and Bombali Districts and it is also flowing North of Kamabala settlement. When the tap water and some major water source in the community dry up, the only source for the women at the peak of the dry season is to walk a distance of 4km to get water for their homes. “Even if you want to cook or drink, you must walk this distance to get water or else you stay with none” the 45 year old Fudia said. She said “the water is not clean but it is the only source which has been keeping us alive for the past thirty years”.

A 25 year old house wife, Sallaymatu Kargbo also confirmed that there is no other means of getting clean water for the community and because of this situation they must adopt to the water system. They are used to drinking red-dish water in the community with no official health problem reported from them. “We have no way to do” she said.

School going Children in the Kamabala Community will first fetch water for their parents in the morning and probably wash their mouths at the water well before they can think of going for their schooling on week days. If they try to avoid such task for a day, they will be meted with a lesson that they will never forget in their life time. “I fetch water before going to school and after school also” a class 4 school pupil said.

The official service providers for water supply in Sierra Leone are the government owned Guma Valley Water Company in Freetown and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) and the Local Councils. With a new decentralization policy, embodied in the Local Government Act of 2004, responsibility for water supply in areas outside the capital city was passed from the central government to local councils.

Official reports at the Sierra Leone Water Company indicates that as of 2012, SALWACO only provides piped water in Lungi in the Port Loko District, Makeni in the Bombali District, Bo and Kenema districts and was in the process of providing for residents in part of Pujehun and Koinadugu Districts. Officials at the SALWACO and Local Council in Kambia out of anonymity revealed that there is yet no ways for providing pipe-borne water in many major towns of Kambia District, not to mention of smaller ones. The Water Company is supposed to transfer water service provision to Local Councils and this has not happened so far because of little capacity to do so.

There are still many people in the world that still do not have sufficient access to safe drinking water. Official United Nations report indicates that about 884 million people don’t have access to clean water of which about 340 million people live in Africa.

Globally and on a daily basis, 200 million hours of women’s time is used in fetching water and official statements indicate that this leaves them extremely vulnerable.

Results also highlight that 3.6 million people die annually from water-related diseases. Sub-Saharan countries only store 4% of their annual renewable flows. Compare to 70-90% in developed countries. In Sierra Leone, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has just separated the Ministry of Energy from the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources to further responsible for water and sanitation policy in the country.

With the unavailability of plastic and bottled water supply in the rural town of Kamabala, it is not yet clear when these rural women will stop drinking red colored water that has great potential of making them and their children get sick.

Besides the fact of the government Sierra Leone’s key and importance role towards ensuring clean and affordable water for its citizens in the country, sons of the soil of Kamabala may come in for assistance towards this trend. The town itself is a producer of prominent descendants presently living in the city with some working and holding vital positions at the University of Sierra Leone and the National Revenue Authority but they hardly come back to the village and help to the water or whatever assistance the Community may need.

Definitely and most certainly, if all these personalities come out and start mobilizing to save their Community, the crisis the Kamabala is facing will obviously be a thing of the past one day and rural women will breathe a sigh of relief.

Written by Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya with fellowship from the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network and partnership from WaterAid, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. Email:, Mobile: +23276897169



January 19, 2013

$8 million Water Project: 300 taps for Kambia

By Mustapha Sesay, Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone

Residents of Kambia Town, northern Sierra Leone have commended the Government of Sierra Leone for providing them with pipe -born water after forty years to address the acute shortage of water and reduce the spread of water born diseases.

The Kambia Water Supply Project was made possible through a grant -aid from the people of Japan as a token of friendship and corporation to the tune of eight million dollars through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).

ALWACO and JICA Officials testing some of the  taps in Kambia Town

ALWACO and JICA Officials testing some of the taps in Kambia Town

Officers of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), the Contractor of the Kambia Water Supply Project Dai Nippon Construction Japan and the Consultants from Eight-Japan Engineering Consultants Incorporated have ended a working visit to the completed Kambia Water Supply Project, installed distribution network and staff quarters.

Briefing the delegation the SALWACO Kambia District Engineer Yankuba Tarawalley said the Kambia water supply project is now ready for use by the local authorities.

He said the source of water for the Kambia Water Supply Project is the Kollenten River, which provides a treated water of 1,200 cubic meters of water per day to an elevated tank of 400 cubic meters.

The SALWACO Engineer said the project constructed three hundred taps of one hundred stand post at a distance of 100 meters range, he added that the 2,300 household have also been registered to enable them benefit from the pipe born water.

 The JICA project Manager Kazumi Matsuda said the Kambia water treatment plant and its distribution network has state of the art technologies that ensure the delivery of safe drinking water to households.

He said the treatment plant has an automated system that diagnosis faults on the machinery as local staff will also be trained on the use and maintenance of the Kambia water supply facilities to ensure sustenance of the project.

The Ag. Director General of SALWACO Victor Hastings Spaine after a conducted tour of the facilities said the Kambia Water Supply Project is one of the best in the country and calls on Kambia residents to embrace the project.

He said SALWACO will provide seed money for the commencement of water distribution within the Kambia Township for a period of three months and called on the Kambia Local Council and the water management Board to support the project.

The Ag. Director General of SALWACO Victor Hastings Spaine also stated that his company will also provide technical and managerial assistance towards the Kambia water supply project and also promised to construct toilet facilities within the project site.

The Chairman of the Kambia Water Supply and Sanitation Board Ibrahim S. Njai said the people of Kambia have not received pipe born water for the past forty years and assured that the water project will be sustained for the benefit of residents.

He appealed to the Management of SLWACO for a continued support towards the water supply project and to also train the technical staff of the project for the use and maintenance of the facilities.

Mr. Ibrahim S. N’jai also appealed for transportation in the areas of vehicles or motor bikes as the Kambia water supply project site is a long distance from the township.

The Chief Administrator of the Kambia District Council Victor Kalie Kamara expressed thanks and appreciation to the government of Japan and SALWACO for their support and pledged council’s determination to provide a subsidy towards the water project to ensure its sustenance.

A resident of Kambia Town who runs the council’s restaurant Adama Turay said the Kambia water supply project is a blessing to the district as they have been suffering to get pipe born water for years which also costs them a lot of money to buy packet water for drinking and domestic use at their homes.

She said they are willing to pay for the pipe –born water provided by the Kambia Water Supply Project as it will reduce the financial burden on families and also deaths on water born disease related ailments.

 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.

January 19, 2013

Sorie Town battles with Water shortage

By Salifu Conteh, Water and Sanitation Media Network S/L

The world’s great Philosophers after critically studying the significance of water in the daily sustenance of humans as they patch to find it, hold the fact that this natural substance is the main nourishment of life. This accepted fact has become the universal truth and its shortage or inaccessibility or affordability has become a global concern.

As the population continues to grow, the search for water not mentioning it purification and hygiene unabatedly continues to hit the world. Many qualities have been couched or converted about water and all these when critically looked at, it worth its meaning, and candidly there is nowhere in the world, where the use of water is not visible or on the contrary its shortage creates an herculean problem which can be easily seen on the faces of the victims.

The trek for pure water is slowly becoming very difficult for the world population breeding in bad sanitation which at the end gives birth to the acute health hazards. Pure drinking water and proper sanitary system are like two bed fellows and the lack or shortage of one leads to unwanted problems, forms part of the world’s Human Development Index which is globally now an impetus used to rate a country or nation.

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

Pure drinking water and improved sanitation is the backbone for proper health system and better living standard, as scientist have confirmed that a healthy body system can ably resist any incoming virus that may wants to invade the body. Meaning, especially in the third world countries (predominantly Africa) communities has the zest for pure drinking water and good sanitation many of these deplorable community despite the frantic efforts of the government suffers the brunt for proper water.

Though some have attributed such mishaps to the location of such community but the underlying note is that access to proper water and sanitation for every human being is a must and it absence is a violation and the consequences could not over emphasized, taking into cognizance communities like the KrooBay, Moe Wharf, Big Wharf, Sorie Town, Sumaila Town among others. It will be interesting that it is opined that water comes down from the hill up to the flat land, interestingly in some of these communities it is the reverse as the hillside areas which supposed to spill fresh water are the most affected and most deprived, investigations have shown that any outbreak will be disastrous especially for the children and lactating mother.

Taking a leg walk to the Sorie Town Community, back of the Pademba Road Maximum Prison, underlying the foot of the Fourah Bay College in the western area surrounded by Dwarzak Community, Sumaila Town Community etc., the patch for pure drinking water is alarming and touches the hearts as little children, pregnant women and others carrying containers trekking miles for water.

It has been like this for the past twenty-five(25) years now in this community leaving people somber  each day. The community is predominantly dominated by the third largest group in the country situated at Ward 375 Constituency 106 in the Central part of Freetown. The accessibility and affordability to pipe borne ware to them is impossible. Every year the period between December and the next rainy season is met by hordes of men, women and children scampering helter skelter at every hour of the day and night in search of clean drinking water.

When it rains the community piles all their utensils for water to easy the day’s trek, no matter how much.

Investigation revealed that the community initially source water from bore holes which they normally used for domestic purposes and trek miles in search of drinkable water.

According to information, some people who could not make it for drinking water had no option but to use those bore holes water to drink. ‘We’ve used to the water and we preferred them than the water. In fact it ease the burden of trekking miles away for a container or bucket of drinking water’, an old woman told me. She said, her age would not allow her to cover those distance for pure drinking water unless from the bore holes few yards from her house which she uses and she never complaint about any illness.

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

Mamie Ndeamor, further said, prior to this period when she and her late husband first settled in the community water was not a problem as there was fresh and good water running from the hill top. The surrounding communities were even jealous of Sorie Town as they usually come to fetch water from the community. It was because of the sufficiency of water in the community, lures inhabitants to engage in farming as most of the fresh leaves and crops were coming from Sorie Town.

Appallingly as things unraveled and with the influx of people putting structures everywhere without proper planning and preservation of the catchment areas the water has dried up and the site is almost like a dumping site oozing out little water.

It is sad, a young girl intimated this press, that during the dry season when the bore holes and dug out wells is dried people queued in those areas to fetch water.

Faced with such alarming situation, the community which is almost over populated dug out series of wells approximately closed to the narrow gutters for water and most of these wells the water there are not hygienic for human being. This menace affects most of the youths and school going pupils who had to tote a gallon or more depending on the size of the family everyday up and down the hill. For the school going pupils, they had to wake up very early in the morning in search of water and sometimes missed their first periods in class, whilst other get hits by motor bikes, for the young girls even get pregnant along the line since they have to trek miles and hours to fetch water before and after school. It is a serious problem in the community.

Joseph Turay, a middle age man, said the water problem in the community is not a new thing as it has been the usual talk and they have made many moves for an improvement but to no avail. He added that the politicians who normally visited the community are au- fait with these problems but have failed to help as they usually make vague promises. Prior to this period, a certain politician started the construction of a proper water system, but ceased to continue the work because the community refused to vote him as honourable Member of Parliament. ‘Basically, the project was like abate for the community people undertaken by the then politician’ he emphasized.

The Donwell, which is the major source of water in the community, was constructed this year by on Mr. Gerbar to salvage the problem. The well  though below the hygienic standards is always over crowded as community people both young and old had to throng with their containers to fetch  water back home in order to save time off the miles trek for water. But the million question that runs down the mind is how pure is the water since it is coming from an open well, is it normally treated by the community or the Health and Sanitation Ministry?. Suffice to say that many of our wells in the different communities round the country only received treatment when there is an outbreak, like the cholera outbreak that engulfed many lives.

The plight faced by the Sorie Town Community, is also visible in the other surrounding communities like the Sumaila Town, Dwarzak among others, where people had to walk miles off their houses to fetch water for diverse purposes. Visiting these communities will you will feel poverty, therefore one would not bother to talk about the purchase of packet water.

It will interest readers to note that despite the suffering of the people, there has not been any proper community mobilization and advocacy programmes put in place for pure water system in the community, neither from the government nor donors. And the looming danger is, had there been any outbreak of disease likes the cholera which had left nearly many homes in tears, it will be disastrous. Secondly, because of the unchecked encroachment of catchment areas the country will soon be faced with serious drought and there is also the possibility of landslide in these areas if nothing is done speedily. Meaning, it is not just about water insufficiency but the possibility of herculean problem hovering the communities in this country.

For instance, the slums areas, KrooBay, Big Wharf, Moa Wharf, Kanikay Wharf among others where people are using sticks and stones to bank the sea water, no pure drinking water, no proper sanitary system etc. had there been any flooding as happened elsewhere in the world it will be disastrous.

Coming back to my case study, which is Sorie Town, due to the unhygienic water, dug close to gutters and the poor sanitary system, the most prevalence disease in the community is Typhoid and Malaria. For the little children, they most often died of diarrhea and vomiting, not to mention pregnant women who normally gave birth under strenuous conditions. Many of those, whom this author was fortunate to run through (especially school going pupils) expressed their frustration and disappointment on the undue suffering they are faced with in search of pure water, which seriously affects their studies.

It is obvious, that there is an urgent need for government through the line Ministries to come up with a comprehensive programme of action to adequately address the crying needs affecting the hillside and hilltop communities. ‘What we need is for government to take on Water and Sanitation with a sense of urgency and make it a national concern’ a young school girl emphasized.

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 .

January 19, 2013

Government must focus on WASH Situation at Allentown

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.

Big water Well at Ojoku Community

Big water Well at Ojoku Community

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.

November 26, 2012

Le 10.7 Billion Water Project for two Districts in Sierra Leone

By Mustapha Sesay
+232 78540108

Residents of Kailahun District and Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District are currently breathing some form of relief with the instillation of water treatment plants to access pipe born water.
The Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) charged with this responsibility has completed the installation of water treatment plants and its distribution networks at Mile-91 and Kailahun for the provision of safe drinking water for residents struggling to access pipe born water.
According to the Acting Director General of the Sierra Leone Water Company Victor Hastings Spaine the water supply project for mile 91 in the Tonkolili District was funded by the Government of Sierra Leone to the tune of (Le10.7b) to ensure households access pipe born water.
He also stated that the Kailahun water supply project was funded by the EXIM Bank of India as extended a line of US $ 30 million to the government of Sierra Leone for financing rehabilitation of existing water facilities and addition of new infrastructure to supply potable water to six areas across the country geared towards enhancing improved water supply for residents.
He said the project has been completed by Angelique International an Indian based company and residents have started using the pipe born water from their taps for drinking and domestic use in their homes so as to improve the living the standards of the people aimed at achieving the millennium development goals by 2015.
Explaining further Mr. Spaine said SALWACO has constructed 11kilo meters of transmission line and 9 kilo meters of distribution line for SLAWACO with state of art technology treatment plant and laboratory with a 250 cubic meters of water reservoir.
He added that SALWACO has also constructed 2 kilo meters of transmission lines and 13 kilo meters of distribution line with a state of the art technological treatment and laboratory for a 750 cubic meters of reservoir at mile 91.

The Administrative and Finance Officer of SALWACO Mariama Jalloh implored locals to handle the taps with care so as to sustain the project for the benefit of the residents in the area.
She also told beneficiaries of the SALWACO water project at Mile -91 and Kailahun to embrace the project for the effective use of the water supply and cautioned against destruction of the taps by Locals.
Residents of Kailahun and Mile -91 expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Water Company for completing the project.
Residents said it took over forty years for them to get access to pipe born water in both Mile-91 and Kailahun and promised to utilize the facilities for the benefit of all the people.
kailahun picture

July 23, 2012

3, 721 Cholera Cases, 62 dead in four Districts in Sierra Leone

3, 721 Cholera Cases, 62 dead in four Districts
….Health Ministry worried
By Mustapha Sesay

Officials in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, West Africa are currently thinking about possible strategies that will bring to halt the frequent deaths of Sierra Leoneans in four districts, namely Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area.
A cholera epidemic in the four Districts has claimed the lives of 62 people as at Tuesday 17th July 2012. Kambia District records the highest number of deaths at 26 whilst Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area have 21, 9 and 6 respectively.
The epidemic has now spread to the city Freetown with two hundred and seventy four reported cases since the outbreak. Port Loko District is reported to have recorded the highest number of cases with a total of one thousand nine hundred nineteen people affected by the recent outbreak. This is followed by Kambia district with nine hundred twenty four reported cases.
Report states that the latest outbreak has become a course for concern especially the Health Ministry, which is fighting tooth and nail to map up prevention education and strategies to prevent further cases.
Figures released by the Ministry also show that a total of one thousand nine hundred sixty children under the ages of five have been affected superseding adult cases recorded at one thousand seven hundred sixty one cases in all districts.
More cases of under-fives have been reported from Port Loko making the situation worrisome. Chlorine according to the Ministry of Health has been dispatched to provincial districts with increased surveillance along the area. Centers referred to as blue flag have been created to treat cases of Cholera in all affected areas as part of urgent measures put in place to treat the disease.
However, a medical team with support from the World Health Organization has also been dispatched to the area to collect samples especially water samples, as most of the areas affected depend on streams and water wells for domestic purposes except for the city Freetown that enjoys pipe born water.
Water sources in all affected areas are now undergoing treatment so as to curtain the disease.
It can be recalled in March this year a total of 34 people were reported dead as a result of cholera disease, with over 2,000 cases reported in three districts around the country.
Officials say the Districts affected are Kambia, Port Loko and Pujehun and that measures were put in place to contain the spread of the epidemic.
Cholera outbreak was first discovered in Yele Boya, a small Island in Kambia district on Sierra Leone’s border with Guinea, while more outbreaks were later reported in two other districts.
Cholera is said to be a severe disease which primarily affects the intestinal tract and it is caused by the pathogenic bacteria.
It causes weakness, fatigue, rapid pulse, excessive thirst, glassy and or sunken eyes, lack of tears, low urine output, vomiting, and diarrhea. Basically, because of the excessive amount of vomiting and diarrhea, the body becomes extremely dehydrated which leads to the other symptoms mentioned and, if not treated soon, also leads to death.
These pathogenic bacterial strains are usually ingested by drinking contaminated water or eating fish not cooked properly, specifically shell fish. The symptoms of cholera include dehydration, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The treatment of cholera involves antibiotics and re-hydration methods. Although, in most severe cases of cholera, this can lead to death.
To cause the disease in a normal healthy adult, nearly 1 million Vibrio cholerae bacterial strains must invade the body by ingestion. But susceptibility to cholera can increase in those who are malnourished, those with decreased gastric acidity (occurs due to heavy antacids usage) or those with poor immune system.

June 4, 2012

Poor WASH Polices and its Effects

By Mustapha Sesay-Sierra Leone, Email:

Unlike the Dry season in most African states that are characterized by acute water shortage, the Rainy season has stated and the masses are seriously going to feel the devastating effects due to lack of effective WASH policies in most areas
Sierra Leone is one of the places worst hit by poor water, hygiene and sanitation facilities at this time of the year as a result of man’s own activities to its environment.
Moving through the major streets of the cities, i.e. Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni, one common feature that is visible is the piles of garbage deposited all over by petty traders after the day’s sales. The drainage are so narrow that most of the waste materials fill these places and flow onto the streets thereby polluting the environment. In the market places, the single dustbin sites built by the Councils are not only overfilled but stinky as these places are left unattended making them breeding grounds for flies, mosquitoes, and mice.

It is alarming that when Council and the Waste Management Company are unable to perform their role of ensuring a healthy clean environment, the traders are left with no option but to deposit unwanted materials in various places. Though the places are filthy and flea infested, traders with cooked food or consumable food stuff are forced to occupy these filthy places and sell to the public. It is for this reason that at the start of the rains one is not surprised to hear of frequent reported cases of outbreak of Cholera, Dysentery, etc. What worries most people is that even the roads to these market places are muddy and filthy, yet Council is not doing much to address the issue. There are times suckling mothers will be busy selling consumable goods and at the same time attending to their babies. Apart from spreading diseases to the public, the cold environment is a health hazard to the baby.
Looking at the places where most of these traders come from in the morning hours, apart from the congestion of most residential areas, it is a common practice for most to throw their dirt into the drainages rather than depositing them in the dustbins. Others will prefer looking for empty rice sacks or drums to keep their garbage for days and weeks. The ugliest part of this scenario is that when it rains during the night people will be seen carrying their piles of rubbish to be deposited in the gutters and drainages, and at most times in the frontage of residences. Not in the least worried about where the rubbish ends up, it is no surprise that most are found flooding the streets and in some cases where houses are built in low level areas these unwanted materials are flooding the compounds of their fellow community people, while still hampering the smooth flow of traffic and pedestrians as they litter the streets.
The situation is unprecedented and has been viewed as very unhygienic as it presents a bad image of the cities to the public, especially visitors to our cities and country.
In most areas shrouded with poor WASH facilities, it is very deplorable to witness as household family members defecating in buckets, locked up tightly in their bathrooms only to be thrown in to the gutters and drainages when it rains; it is not uncommon at night to find people defecating in black plastic bags and throw them in the streets, bringing with them flies. It is on this note that people are advised not to pick up black plastic bags found along the streets after a heavy downpour of rain.
Another area that is hard hit by poor WASH facilities during the rainy season are the slum areas. Most of our cities especially along the west coast of Africa, special reference to Sierra Leone, are surrounded by slum communities which are mostly located by the seaside or coastal areas. Typical examples are the MOA Wharf, Kroo Bay, and Susan’s Bay to name but a few.
The plight of housing facilities is felt more seriously at this time of the year when the population has to battle with a wet environment and flooding. The population has to be up each time it rains heavily, as the deluge of water empties itself into these areas before it finally goes into the sea. Some of the ugliest feature of these communities especially Kroo Bay in the West of the city is that they are overcrowded with makeshift structures that are poorly built
With heavy torrential rains, these houses or areas are over flooded with rooms not spared.
With this, People at night wake up swimming in their houses or rooms reaching for places of safety. For the past years, the rainy season has been a worrisome moment as animals, properties and human lives are destroyed because the rain washes all along its path into the sea. In the past, there were plans to move the people within these places to safer areas but nothing of this is now heard about. In the city, the poor drainage construction is also of concern to the public as the flooded drainages are a death trap for school children and strangers as there are cases of children having been swept away only to be later found dead.
As a result of the outbreak of diseases associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our cities, flooding and destruction of lives and properties at this time of the year, the Central and Local Government in the past and present have used various strategies to address some of these burning issues, yet the problem still persists.
Before now, it was a common practice by the City Council in collaboration with Clean Salone and the Freetown Waste Management Company to ensure that the city and its environs are clean and environmentally friendly. Most of these strategies have been fruitless as a result of one’s attitudes towards maintaining a clean and friendly environment.
Previously, it had been scheduled that the last Friday of every month be “National Cleaning Day”; from 6am to 10am. All were expected to be within their environment cleaning their houses and compounds. Those who are caught along the streets doing nothing were either subjected to cleaning public places or arrested and later fined in the courts of law.
Though it was a good drive to ensure a clean environment, it was later misconstrued by certain sectors of the community. While it was meant to clean the environment, others were using the opportunity to throw all the dirt or rubbish accumulated for weeks along the streets. With the lack of man power/trucks on the side of the Council to speedily clear the piled up dirt, the rubbish was again scattered in the streets hampering the smooth flow of traffic. Though it is the mandate of the Council to clean the city, it was ironical that the city ended up becoming the dirtiest place after every cleaning exercise.
If today we as a nation prefer a clean environment devoid of health risk hazards, there is the need for all to observe best WASH practices in the sub-region and the country.

March 27, 2012

Diarrhea, Vomiting and Cholera sweep Border towns in Sierra Leone

By Mustapha Sesay,
The plight of residents living in the border towns of Sierra Leone is becoming worrisome as reports make rounds that an outbreak of acute vomiting and cholera is affecting them which have attracted the attention of medical staff and some Humanitarian organizations

Reports of the notion was first revealed by one of the local newspapers “Salone Times” with the caption “Cholera Outbreak hits Northern Sierra Leone’ with special reference to the Kambia and Port Loko Districts. This town (Kambia) borders Sierra Leone with the Republic of Guinea. Two weeks after this report, a Journalist by the name of Saidu Bah of Awoko Newspaper was opportune to visit the Southern border towns of Sierra Leone where he witnessed acute diarrhea and vomiting cases and most of the parties were receiving treatment under mango trees and others offering shade.
Pictures taken by him and shown over National Television last week confirmed the magnitude of the epidemic and the urgent need for the government and other humanitarian organizations working towards combating the spread of the diseases to employ all measures to bring the threat under control.
Speaking to our northern correspondent Sahr Gbanga who visited Kambia and Port Loko District to get first hand information about the nature of these diseases, he first of all attributed the problem of quickly and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene practices in most remote areas visited.
According to him, there is adverse effect of the dry season on the availability of clean drinking water to these towns and villages. The absence of pipe borne water has left most of the residents with no option but to use stream and well water. Unfortunately, at the peak of the dry season most of these shallow wells are dried up and the streams are either very shallow or are also dried up.

The few that do continue to flow are overcrowded and populated as the scramble for water is the order of the day. In some of these remote parts, young girls have to walk long distances to get water for their domestic purposes. Mr. Banga highlighted the constraints involved in getting water. In one or two areas, the shallow streams are greenish with spirogyra or mud in the wells. This has not served as barriers to the deprived people as they scope every particle in the well and carry it to their towns Speaking to Fatu Kamara, a sixteen year old girl on how they purify the water before drinking, she informed him that for years now they only take the water home and allow the particles to settle before drinking as there is no time for purification.
In another town where a stream flows, he witnessed the deforestation along the banks for farming and various activities like washing, laundering and even the
washing of feaces by a suckling mother. This same stream according to him runs through other villages, and he was astonished to travel along it for a mile to find others getting it for consumption purposes. It was at this point he came toconclude that man was at a point in time contributing to his/her own predicament as a result of nature.
In the Southern border town of Pujehun District, Sulima town, another reporter Gbessay Juldeh noted some of the features. To his astonishment, most of the
victims were suffering from excessive vomiting and acute diarrhea. Most of those affected were helpless as a result of dehydration or loss of energy. Moving from one village to the next in Sorogbema Chiefdom, there was lamentation of the death of family members from the epidemic and the call on government and other humanitarian intervention to halt such a plague and avert it in the future.
It must be noted that at the peak of the dry season, access to affordable and quality water is a problem in most parts of the continent. In Sierra Leone, the urban towns like Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema to name a few, can go without pipe borne water for days and even where it is possible, hardly is it enough for all the inhabitants. With this, it should not be a surprise for provincial towns and remote villages to be affected with this problem. The reason being that resources are not yet ripe to move away to these places and install pipe borne water that are well
purified for drinking.
It must also be noted that most of the border towns are mainly populated with over 30,000 people roughly in some of these places because of trade and agricultural activities.
Furthermore, the outbreak of this acute vomiting and diarrhea occurred at a time when the Community Health Officers and Community Health Assistants downed tools in most of the clinics in these remote areas. Like in the Northern town of Kambia and Pout Loko Districts the causes of the
epidemics in the Board Town of Pujehun District according to our reporter is related to the lack of quality water, Hygiene and sanitation facilities. With shallow wells, the residents have no option but to drink contaminated water, most defecate in the open or the few toilets are not ideal for human usage, and resident at this time of the year are more interested in their farming activities than that of sanitation in the towns.

To address this problem in the boarder towns, the following measures needed to be taken into consideration: there must massive sensitization and awareness on the need to live a clean environment free from pollution. Pit latrines should be constructed by every householder and the people admonished on the dangers of open defecation. Stream water must be used wisely during the dry season as it is a major source for the spread of diseases when contaminated. Government and humanitarian organizations must construct water wells in remote areas and encourage medical staff like Community Health Workers with drugs and other incentives in order to be dedicated and committed to their work. It is believed that when such precautions are taken, diseases related with water, sanitation and hygiene would be addressed or curtailed.

March 9, 2012

Ahead of World Water Forum – Government to invest in the Water Sector

By Diana Coker

The 6th World Water Forum will take place in Marseille, France on the 12 – 17 March 2012. This is the world largest meeting around the issue of water. The goal of the forum is to tackle the challenges our world is facing and bring water high on the political agenda.

One year ago at the United Nations, 189 states agreed that the right to water everywhere on the planet, for all and everyone must be guaranteed and implemented. Nearly two years ago experts in water and sanitation issues AITKINS UK advised the Sierra Leone government to reconsider an adjustment on the tariff of water to meet current economic trend.
Since 2006, a gallon of portable water produced by Guma Valley Water Company for domestic consumer cost Le 1.30 cent ($ 0.25) and that of commercial consumers is Le13.000 equivalent to $4, these rates have been classified as the cheapest in the world.

Notwithstanding, the low tariff, Sierra Leone is still striving to implement the right to water, the in availability and inaccessibility of clean drinking water is still a problem posing huge challenges to the main service provider of portable water in the city. To get the facts together, investigation carried out clearly proves that currently the main source of supply, the Guma Dam at mile 91 produces at its maximum 16.5 million gallons of water per day.

There is growth in population increase in the city for the past 10 -13 years thus leading to newly developed communities that are yet to access safe drinking water. The challenges the company faces are numerous mostly ranging from the authorised interference on the system (e.g. cutting of pipes, valve regulation by non Guma workers deforestation of smaller water sources leading to pollution, wide spread illegal connection and failure to pay bills by consumers. According to a worker, who prefers anonymity for obvious reasons, most of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies owe the company huge amount of monies and therefore they could not address some technical related problems and increase water supply to unserved areas.

Furthermore, investigations so far have proven that the Guma Valley Water Company does not benefit from government subvention like the case of the National Power Authority about 83 thousand dollars is spent quarterly for the purchasing of chemicals (chlorine, lime and alum). The cost of running the company is so high that there is urgent need for additional assistance from both government and other international financial institutions to kick start the much trumpeted Orugu Dam in the east of Freetown.

The development of a second dam must be given serious consideration to address the water crisis. As both Parliamentary and Presidential elections are fast approaching, it is hoped that politicians place water, sanitation and hygiene issues at the heart of the country’s development agenda, they must ensure that policies are translated into real actions that will directly impact on the lives of the poor and marginalized, who are faced with the daily dilemma of inaccessibility to safe drinking water and affordable sanitation in their communities and to also attract more companies to invest in the country. Water is life.


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