World Water Day Statement from WASH-Net Sierra Leone
March 23, 2014 – Mr. Chairman; His Worship the Mayor of Freetown, Representative of His Excellency the President, Hon. Ministers of Water Resources, Health & Sanitation, AfDB Representative, the World Bank, DfID development partners, colleagues in the civil society, the fourth estate, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I bring you all greetings from WASH-Net, but more specifically on behalf of the millions of citizens who still do not have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.
Yesterday, hundreds of Sierra Leoneans marched to stand in solidarity with the 43% of citizens who are still waiting to be served with safe drinking water. Translating this in real terms, it is over 2.5 million citizens. These are not just numbers, but people who are faced with the burnt realities of inaccessibility; realities of women & children who still walk for hours every day to fetch water for their basic needs – meaning children miss out on education and women have less time to engage in economic activities.
Showcasing some of the economic benefits of investing in the sector, Investing in WASH is important because:
- Sierra Leone has one of the highest under-5 mortality rates in the world and water borne diseases and cholera has affected many in the 2012 cholera outbreak.
- Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services affect poor school attendance and performance (particularly among girls) and safety and security of women and girls.
- Based on WHO estimates, the annual economic cost of the prevailing low levels of access to water and sanitation could be a significant 2% of GDP per annum.
With large-scale reforms going in the WASH sector, we are very well cognizant of the many successes scored by the government of Sierra Leone and its development partners. Owing to the fact that despite these successes there are underlying challenges which includes:
- The recurrent and capital expenditure for water has declined from 2010 through 2011, and 2012 and only picked up again in 2013.
- The sanitation allocation has declined from 0.027% of GDP in 2010 to 0.018% in 2012 and a massive effort is required to reverse the trend in 2013 and commit to reaching the target of 1% of GDP by 2015.
- Per capita investment in WASH has decreased from $ 0.10 in 2011 to $ 0.06 in 2013.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished personalities, despite these challenges, we still do have hopes and very good stories to tell even when progress seems to be slow. We therefore request government to:
- Have a separate sanitation budget line: government should set up the Sanitation Directorate and have a separate sanitation budget line to increase the importance and visibility of sanitation needs.
- Disburse funds on time: by overhauling the financial management system and overcoming one of major barriers to WASH development affecting Ministries and councils.
- Increase recurrent funds: to allow increased investment to hygiene promotion,community mobilization, post-construction support, monitoring of programs and sustain WASH service delivery at local and national level.
- Strengthen Local Councils: to improve district capacity to plan and deliver WASH activities as intended in the Local Government Act.
As I conclude, WASH-Net’s approach in all of these is to enhance and facilitate multistakeholder
processes across the sector, engender and promote knowledge, identify opportunities for intervention and advocacy. We will continue working with government and our partners like WaterAid, the WASH Consortium, UNICEF and state actors like the Ministries of Water Resources, Health and Sanitation, Finance and Economic Development and most importantly Local Government and Rural Development among others.
The 3rd High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All will take place on April 2014 and represents a crucial milestone in tackling the water and sanitation crisis to which Sierra Leone.
“Wata na life en sanitation na dignity”; “Mr. Gov’t, we welcome the promises, but we urge you to fulfill them”…. among others were messages on placards on yesterday’s float parade Take Action Now!
Together we’ll continue working with partners to overcome the sanitation, hygiene and water crisis in Sierra Leone.
Delivered by Musa Ansumana Soko: Chairman
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