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Minister promises better water facilities

Minister promises better water facilities thumbnail

The Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Professor Ogunade Davidson has said in a press briefing hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communication at the Youyi building Freetown that his ministry wants to transform the society of Sierra Leone into having clean and pure drinking water.

He said Sierra Leone has enough water, “God has blessed us with water, yet we cannot gather the water and deposit it into a dam,” he stated, adding that pipe borne water will be available for all Sierra Leoneans when the water policy has been implemented.

There is other water which he referred to as untreated water which may not be too clean but one can use in washing and sanitation. There are lots of children that do not have access to clean water ranging from 0-5 years and as a result they suffer from cholera and other water borne diseases.

The water policy plan is a document but there is an implementation plan which tells you how to implement the policy up to 2025. Sierra Leone possesses enough water resources which are contained in major rivers in the country. Despite the abundance, about 32% of the rural population has access to clean water.

The minister highlighted the functions of the water policy plan with provision of pipe borne water for domestic use, provision of water for industrial productivity, provision of water for irrigation, to ensure clean water for domestic purpose and rural water supply. He said the water policy has short term goals which are: to improve access to water in provincial headquarter towns and large settlements and the demarcation and protection of water catchments area. For the medium and long term goals, the policy seeks to improve access to water in district headquarters, construction of Orugu dam and Radiation technology.

The minister further listed the different institutions that are responsible for providing water in the following ways: MEWR-potable water supply, MAFFS-Water for Agriculture, MOHS-Sanitation and Water Quality, MFMR-Large Water bodies, MLE-Water pollution and Environment.

About 3.43 million people do not have adequate sanitation facility. In the water policy there are emergency projects for Freetown, they are: increased stand post, introduction of Sub-Mains and provision of chemicals. Other international projects are India supported project to construct 4 sites in Freetown and also DFID supported project for power and water which are for rural areas.

The Government of Sierra Leone set up a company, the Sierra Leone Water Company to help in providing water in the districts and provinces but he said the company is faced with a lot of problems and as a result they haven’t completed their task.

There were 42 Degremont stations which were used in providing water for domestic uses but during the war all eased working. With the help of the Japanese Government, a survey was conducted and out of the 42 there are 37 Degremont stations that can be rehabilitated.

He mentioned key stakeholders in the water management which include and they are Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Development partners, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Community Based Organization (CBOs), the private sector and the consumer or community.

He said he intended to put laboratories right around the country so that they can check the quality of water that children drink, “for us as adults have enough resistance whilst the children don’t,” he said.

He again mentioned some underlying problems within the Western Area which he said needs 30 millions of gallons a day but Guma can only produce 18.5 million, so the construction of Orugu dam will be the way forward.

In the district and provincial headquarter towns, there must be pipe borne water and that will be the work of the new SALWACO. He said the name might change but nobody IS bothered about the name. There will be new staff; area engineers and area supervisors to rebuild the buildings used by the former Degremont stations.

The Government is thinking of changing SALWACO to PROWACO, meaning Provincial Water Company that will be responsible for district headquarters and provincial towns whilst Guma will be for the Freetown peninsular, for this is how the water system will be organized.

By Patrick J.F Squireson

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