Providing water for the most vulnerable - World Water Day in Sierra Leone
World Water Day, observed annually on 22nd March, is a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate water, to help make a difference for those who suffer from water-related issues, and to prepare for the water issues of the future. This year’s theme “valuing water”, opens up the conversation about what water means to each one of us. Recording - and celebrating - all the different ways that water benefits our lives, can help us to value water properly and safeguard it effectively for everyone.
In marking this year’s World Water Day, World Vision, in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Water Resources, commissioned three solar mechanised boreholes water supply systems in three hard-to-reach communities in the eastern part of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Kola Tree, Kalaba Town, and Kissy Shell are communities that have been without potable water for decades, leaving residents with many sad stories to tell.
Rugiatu Koroma a resident of the Kola tree community lamented her sad and difficult past, “before World Vision brought this water system to our community, our children were suffering. Because we are residing at the hilltop, they have to come down the hill and cross a very dangerous highway to find water every day. It was an ordeal we dislike but we had no alternative. My 14-year-old son was hit by a bike while crossing the highway one morning while returning home after fetching water and he almost lost his life. Seeing this water system gives me so much joy and I am very grateful to World Vision and the Heineken Africa Foundation”.
In his statement on World Water Day, Interim National Director for World Vision in Sierra Leone, Sagane Thiaw, outlined the global and national success of World Vision in providing safe water and hygiene for people in vulnerable situations. He stated that World Vision globally operates one of the largest privately-funded rural water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programme in the world, adding: “Our vision as a child-focused organisation is life in all in fullness for every child. Life in all its fullness is child well-being, and child well-being cannot be achieved if children do not have access to WASH services. The provision of WASH services is one of our key strategic aims for the next five years in Sierra Leone”.
The sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) is to accelerate universal and equitable access to WASH services. Sagane noted that since 2017, World Vision has made tremendous strides. “In Sierra Leone from 2017 to now, World Vision has constructed 105 solar mechanised boreholes in schools, health care facilities, and communities which has allowed us to support over 200,3000 beneficiaries. We have constructed 210 latrine blocks, 176 in schools, 34 in health care facilities that are used by 140,681 people”. Sagane concluded by thanking the Government of Sierra Leone for providing the enabling space for World Vision to thrive, and the Heineken Africa Foundation for believing in World Vision's WASH expertise.
On behalf of the donor, the Heineken Africa Foundation, Albert Ojo Collier (Corporate Affairs Manager and Company Secretary at the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited) expressed delight in supporting such a project in the three communities due to the acute constraints of the community members –especially young girls and children many of whom have dropped out of school. He further underpinned the worth of the project: “This project worth 200,000 Euros (2.3 billion Leones) and these boreholes we are commissioning today will target 16,000 beneficiaries while the entire project will benefit 33,000 people”. He further noted that the Heineken Africa Foundation and Sierra Leone Brewery Limited are partners for growth, and very pleased to associate with well-meaning international NGOs like World Vision which has a track record to deliver on donor funds and their promises.
Handing over the facilities to the three communities, Minister of Water Resources, Philip Lansana, thanked the Heineken Africa Foundation for providing the funds, and World Vision for executing the job on time. He stated that his ministry is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring affordable and accessible water in the country. “I am really happy as World Vision provides water through funds from the Heineken Africa foundation represented here by Sierra Leone Brewery Limited. They are assisting me because I’m responsible to provide water for everybody. We have a target I’m supposed to reach in providing water, so any step to provide water is a plus to my ministry,” he said. The history of the project, he added, could be traced back to the COVID-19 lockdown in March of last year when people were struggling to have access to water. The Minister further thanked Pa Kamara, a resident of Kola tree and the Muslim Jamaat at Kalaba town, for providing the needed land space to carry out the project. He concluded by outlining that water plays an integral part of life and urged communities to own and maintain the projects to enhance sustainability.
World Vision continues to collaborate with the Ministries of Water Resources, Health and Sanitation, Local Government, Guma Valley Water company, National COVID-19 Emergency Centre, Freetown City Council, Kola Tree, Kissy Shell, and Kalaba town communities to facilitate access to WASH in a bid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.