The Program Management Unit (PMU) with support from the European Union, has ended a one-day conference with six District councils across the country, including, Kenema, Kambia, Bombali, Pujehun, Falaba and Karene District councils, at the Kenema district council conference hall in Kenema.
The conference, which was held on the 1st March 2021, is part of the PMU’s support to the six local councils within the Support to Local Authorities and Civil Society project funded by the EU. In his welcome address the Chief Administrator Kenema District Council Ahmed S. Koroma appreciated the EU support to the councils, which he described as a positive stride towards sustainable development.
The Chairman Kenema District Council, Mohamed “O” Level Sesay said in his statement that water is life and it is not free. He disclosed that some communities within the district are now adapting themselves to paying for water, adding that the EU has done a lot to ensure that they do their service delivery to the expectation of the masses. Giving a brief background of the project, the Team Lead PMU, Dr. Julius Munthali, said most of the country’s population, of which about 70 percent live in rural areas and small towns, obtain water from rivers, springs, swamps, and other unprotected sources with very poor sanitary and hygienic conditions. He said the coverage of the rural population by safe water supply facilities is still very low, as it stands at about 48 percent. As a result, waterborne diseases are very common and are partly responsible for the high child mortality and low life expectancy rates. He went on to say that the provision of clean and accessible drinking water is a key component of the services delivered by Local Councils in Sierra Leone.
These services, often delivered in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Ministry of Water Resources, involve maintenance of water catchment facilities, drilling of boreholes, digging of hand dug wells and facilitating access to water resources. Mrs. Valentina Favero, the Cooperate Officer and Programme Manager of the E.U. Decentralization Programme, said they started with four councils in the country, but two other councils, namely, Karene and Falaba have been added and there is future possibility for other councils to come onboard. She called on the councils to continue doing their best in service delivery. The conference was characterized by several presentations from key experts including a representative of the National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA), who provided insight into some of the policy instruments, regulation of service providers and national data on water resources including accessibility, borehole drilling standard and challenges.
Participants worked in groups and devised strategies for effective and sustainable solutions to water provision and management covering planning, contracting, monitoring, supervision and management, including best practice for working with and harnessing the relationship with service providers and the private sector. The Government of Sierra Leone has prioritized the “Improvement of Water Infrastructure” as a key part of its development strategy.
In the Medium Term Development Plan 2019-2023, the Government aims to increase access to portable drinking water by taking the following five policy decisions: Increase water supply and distribution nationwide. Implement reforms to unbundle the water sector. Review the regulatory framework governing the water sector. Improve coordination, collaboration, planning, and implementation among actors. Ensure the National Water Resources Management Agency is established and functional.
For more information about EU’s support to the Governance and Civil Society Programme in Sierra Leone please visit the PMU face book page: www.facebook.com/daipmu.sl