- The government of Sierra Leone has started investing in the re-establishment of basic water supply services after eleven years of civil war. Plans are made to reconstruct these services in the three provincial towns of Makeni, Bo and Kenema, which were strongly affected by the war.
The Sierra Leonean government today assured a US$ 1.2 million grant from the African Development Fund (ADF) to get closer to its aim of re-establishing basic water supplies throughout the country. The ADF grant is to be used to launch a study aimed at "preparing an economically and technically sound water supply and sanitation project" for the three major towns in Sierra Leone.
It also is to "help in an assessment of the rural water supply and sanitation (RWSS) situation of the country," the Tunis-based Fund says in a statement released today. "The study will establish the basis of a country RWSS programme and action plan to meet the needs of year 2015, including preparation of a priority phase and its subsequent implementation," ADF adds.
The three provincial towns covered by the study, namely Makeni, Bo and Kenema, are the headquarters of their respective provinces. The towns are major population centres and play an important role in the economic activities in these areas. During the war, the towns saw much fighting. Their existing water supply schemes were destroyed by the combatants and their population were widely displaced.
Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in Sierra Leone, with the participation of the international community particularly during the 1980s, reached 45 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The country thus was above the African average of that time.
However, the eleven-year civil conflict in Sierra Leone has reversed the situation, as the combatants used the water work and water well sites as fighting bases and caused enormous physical damages on both the provincial water supply installations and the rural water supply schemes.
Statistics compiled in 1997 have shown that the accessibility to safe drinking water supply was about 15 percent while that of basic sanitation facilities was less than 5 percent. After that study was made, renewed fighting is believed to have reduced these numbers even more.
In collaboration with the International Community, the government of Sierra Leone is now attempting to put its economy on a sound footing and improving the living conditions of the population after years of war. A large presence of UN peacekeepers is securing the investments in reconstructions as Sierra Leone slowly recovers from the brutal civil war.
- Increasing access to drinking water supply and basic sanitation facilities is a major pillar in the government's economic and social reconstruction strategy, according to ADF information officer Chawki Chahed.
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