During his Speech on the occasion of the State Opening of the Third Session of the Fifth Parliament, His Excellency Brig. Rtd. Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone stated that improving water infrastructure systems t is an urgent need to review the 2010 National Water and Sanitation Act in order to align it with outcomes and indicators set out in Sustainable Development Goal 6.
President Bio added that the draft reviewed policy has been developed and stakeholder consultations will be soon concluded. The policy will be finalized and introduced this year to guide interventions in the water and sanitation sector. Eight (8) Water Regulations (complaints handling procedures, licensing rules, consumer service, quality of supply, service provider reporting rules, water codes, bottled and sachet water production regulations, certification rules) have been developed, laid before parliament, and are now maturing into law. Pursuant to Government’s commitment to monitor and regulate our water resources, the National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA), which was set up by an Act of Parliament in 2017, is now fully operational with appreciable staff compliment and a five-year strategic plan has been developed.
He said, his government is pursuing action to ensure improved water supply across the country, noting that his government has provided funding for the reconstruction of water supply systems in six District Headquarter Towns (Moyamba, Pujehun, Kailahun, Kabala, Kambia and Magburaka). His government has also provided funding for and will soon commence work on the reconstruction of the Bonthe water supply system.
The Reconstruction of Water supply systems in Bo, Kenema, and Makeni is nearing completion. Residents are already accessing water from these systems. However, very few households are connected to the system. SALWACO is currently accelerating service connections in the three towns. This project is scheduled for commissioning this year. Government has also completed 406 hand dug wells, 125 boreholes, 22 rain water harvesting systems, 301 public sanitation facilities, 200 rain gauging stations, and 20 surface and ground water monitoring stations across six districts (Koinadugu, Falaba, Kono, Kambia, Pujehun and Bonthe).
Additionally, Government has rehabilitated 1100 water points and currently constructing fifteen (15) gravity-flow water supply schemes. Government has made significant investments in WASH in Schools and Health Facilities nationwide. GUMA and SALWACO are aiming at increasing access to Water in Health Facilities at 50 Health Facilities from 65% to 75% and WASH in Schools interventions in about 100 Schools.
President Bio added that DFID has funded feasibility studies and detailed design on the rehabilitation of the Guma Dam, the Water Treatment Plant, Transmission Network, leakage management for distribution network, Spur Road pumping station, extension of the distribution network and refurbishment of the Allen Town water supply system. The World Bank has also funded the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project that will rehabilitate the water treatment plant at the Babadorie Dam, Regent, and the laying of a 4km distribution network in communities close to the mud slide area at Mortormeh. The Government of Sierra Leone has solely funded the Lumley–Aberdeen Beach Road Water Supply Improvement Project which provides service connections to recreational centres and businesses along the beach. He therefore informed the nation that funding has been secured from the African Development Bank and other partners for improvement of the water supply infrastructure in Freetown for increased access to sustainable water supply, sanitation services and hygiene. This project will also develop water sources in small catchment areas along the Western Peninsular for domestic use. Additionally, a pilot project is being implemented in Kingtom and Aberdeen which will isolate and meter these two settlements to determine and understand revenue loss or gain from the water sup