By: Juliana Vandy
Strategic Communications Unit
Thursday Decemder 8, 2022 -Jumu Kenyatta road, Brookfeilds, Freetown.
The Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Water Resources in partnership with the African Development Bank, African Water Facility and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, has on Thursday 8th December 2022 held a one day Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Donor Investment Conference at the new Brookfields Hotel in Freetown, on the theme, “improving access to safe clean water supply and sanitation in the Western Area”.
Addressing donors, the Hon. Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, described the event as timely and important as it speaks directly to government's efforts towards transforming the water sector, particularly given the overwhelming challenges facing it ranging from geography, finance, and management.
He said that the provision of clean water and making it affordable is at the center of government's human capital development drive.
According to the Vice President, as a sub-Saharan country it is also important for Sierra Leone to achieve the SDG target to provide safe drinking water by 2030 to all Sierra Leoneans as clearly stipulated in the Medium Term National Development Plan.
The phrase “human capital development”, he went on, resonates with the vision of President Julius Maada Bio’s development strides.
“We are one of the five countries in the world that is leading on education transformation, and His Excellency the President is one of the five global champions, the reason why he was invited to the last UN General Assembly to co-chair a Global Education Transformation conference with the UN Secretary General,” Dr Juldeh Jalloh stated.
He informed the gathering that when President Bio took office in 2018 he increased budgetary allocation to the health sector from 6% to 8% and then 11.7% although pointing out that Sierra Leone is still 3.3 % percentage below the sub-Saharan Abuja Declaration of 15%.
He affirmed that data indicators show Sierra Leone is reducing maternal and infant mortality and is also expanding healthcare services to areas that are far removed from urban towns.
VP Juldeh Jalloh stressed on the importance of the water sector to all other sectors in ensuring that government meets its development aspirations.
He added that government is focusing on progressively improving access to safe and affordable water supply services as well as improved sanitation and hygiene.
The provision of adequate and safe water, he underscored, requires a good water supply infrastructure system and sound management of the facilities which he said since 2018 this government has made considerable progress towards while undertaking significant structural reforms to boost the sector.
He commended the Minister of Water Resources and team for their efforts in actualizing government’s development plans.
Giving the background to the program, the Minister of Water Resources, Ing. Philip Karimu Lansana, disclosed that the New Direction agenda for national development is built on eight (8) strategic drivers including water and sanitation with special focus on increasing access to improved water supply and sanitation services and hygiene.
He stated that Sierra Leone stands to derive 15% of GDP after it would have achieved universal access to water and sanitation, adding that the government is taking tangible actions to reform the water and sanitation sectors.
He explained that the actions to improve water supply and sanitation services for the population of greater Freetown include implementation of the Freetown Water and Sanitation Master Plan, the Investment Studies Project and the Freetown Wash and Aquatic Environment Revamping Project.
The Freetown Water and Sanitation Master Plan and Investment Studies Project seeks to project effective and efficient short and medium term investment projects into the water and sanitation supply system in greater Freetown and facilitate the mobilisation of coordinated financial resources to incrementally meet the water and sanitation supply needs of the city whilst the Freetown WASH and Aquatic Environment Revamping Project seeks to improve the socio-economic environment of the urban and peri-urban population of greater Freetown through improved access to sustainable wash infrastructure and services.
He said that the conference was expected to contribute 15% in access to safe drinking water and 7% increase in access to improved sanitation in Sierra Leone.
He revealed that government through a grant assistance from the African Water Facility and the Netherlands Agency program secured the needed financing amounting to £2.973 million for the concluded master plan and investment studies project and is assiduously working through the Ministry of Finance to secure an estimated £180 million donor pledges for the WARP project of which about 48% has already been approved.
The Minister said that government remains poised to achieve the SDG 6, assuring that by 2030 all Sierra Leoneans will have access to safe and affordable drinking water which he said is reflected in both the New Direction Manifesto and the Medium Term National Development Plan. He said that government is working towards achieve this by sourcing donor funding, providing counterpart funding and as well using internal revenue to implement projects within the country, citing the six towns project, completion of 100 bore holes in rural communities in 14 districts in the country and provision of bowsers to communities that do not have water networks, among others.
He concluded by underscoring that water and sanitation are not only basic human rights but also prerequisite for social, human and economic development.