Mr President what are you doing about the water crisis in Freetown?

by Abdul Rashid Thomas, originally posted on April 18, 2016


Dear Mr President,

This water crisis in the city has exceeded its elastic limit. Every nook and cranny of Freetown is filled with the weeping and wailing of citizens, because of the shortage of water.

Who else needs to be told that our women and children are at the brunt of this crisis.

Do you know what is water-for-water? This I am made to understand is the new practice of young girls selling their bodies, just to have a Jerry can filled with the indispensable God given water.

It is believed that men managing the water collection points are receiving sex from girls desperate to fetch water.

Maybe only statistics Sierra Leone can do a survey on the number of children that have lost their chastity or impregnated through this practice, just in the name of water supply, which your government is yet to provide for the city.

Quite apart from this, another popular slang on the lips of water victims is “game in hand”.  This is borne out of the fact that people go without showering for several days. If you don’t know about this sir, we will let you know how hard this water exigency is hitting us.

Children believed to be of school going age are seen round the clock in long queues, waiting to collect a few drops of water.  Some spend their school time at the water collection points instead of attending school.

What is more frustrating is the third slang “overtaking”.  This is a strategy that combines paying more money or W4W (sex) to get priority to collect water ahead of those that have spent more time in the queue.

All these ugly developments are happening in Freetown today, because your government has done little to meet Goal 6 of The UN sustainable development goals – ‘ensure access to affordable water and sanitation for all’.

On March 22, Sierra Leone took part in the annual World Water Day Celebration, which focuses attention on the importance of access to clean, safe water, and advocates for the sustainable management of water resources.

How much has your government done towards achieving this goal?  Provision of safe, drinking water for the people is a Human Right, as well as ensuring prosperity for all, as part of the new sustainable development agenda.

Mr President,  I acknowledge the fact that there is Guma Valley Water Company, SALWACO and Ministry of Water Resources. But what have they all done to provide water,  regulate and manage this resource?

Moreover, are we to believe that your government is culpable, because of lack of interest, or poor due diligence?

It is true that children die in Sierra Leone from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

In Sierra Leone today, water scarcity and poor water quality have led to the proliferation of private water companies that are selling water in sachets.  I heard that 82 of these companies do not meet the quality standard. But their products are still on the market.

Sierra Leonean women and children are crying aloud. They need improved access to clean water supply.  I believe western area with slightly above Two million people, is not too high a population, for which you cannot provide adequate water supply.

Mr.  President, I want to contribute to the sustainable future of our country. This is why I am letting people know that it’s your government’s responsibility to provide clean drinking water.

It’s good governance, when a president responds to and addresses the social needs of the people.

Mr. President, it is true that you alone cannot do the job. But how much space have you created for the private sector and civil society involvement?

To conclude,  Pillar Two of your Agenda For Prosperity ( Managing Natural Resources), spells out clearly that Sierra Leone has nine major river systems, viz: Rokel,  Seli, Pampana, Jong, Sewa, Wanje, Great Scarces, Little Scarces and Moa.

Why can’t these be developed to supply clean, safe drinking water?

It is understood that Sierra Leone is rich in water resources to the amount of 160 km3 run off from those nine river basins.

Added to these rivers, what about the Thunder Hill Dam,  the Orugu Dam, the Bankasoka?

Mr President, are these not supplementing Guma Dam?  What is happening to these dams?

I will end with these questions and the people need answers:

Have you developed a comprehensive plan for the integrated management and efficient use of our water resources?

How much local participation have you promoted in the management of water resources?

How many technical and skilled operatives have you provided, for the management of our water resources at various levels?

Have you put in place appropriate legal and regulatory framework?

How many institutions have you strengthened or created to manage the water supply in the country?

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