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Living Water International discusses water accessibility with partners

Living Water International discusses water accessibility with partners

Living Water International (LWI) Country Director Mr. Hastings Banda has engaged different organizations to discuss water accessibility in the country.  (Photo (L-R) Rose Marie-Blake Operations Manager LWI, Hastings Banda Director centre and Olufela Adeyemi Consultant right)

Hastings Banda disclosed this on a dialogue forum with different organizations in the country such as the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) at State House, Concern Worldwide, WASH NET and Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) organised yesterday at the United Methodist Church headquarters in Freetown. Mr. Banda said the aim of his organization was to make sure in 2 years time up to 6,000 people would be accessing clean water in the country, more especially those in the Western Area Rural.

Mr. Banda said the idea of bringing those organizations to a table discussion was to help sharing the survey LWI have done in the field, while the second reason was to find ways of partnering with these organizations.

He said LWI is a faith-based non-profit organization that helps communities in developing countries acquires safe drinking water in response to the global water crisis. Sierra Leone is a country that has huge amount of water resources which are contained in over twenty major rivers. Most parts of the country receive annual rainfall of more than 3000mm and generally almost all parts of the country have plenty ground water. Despite all this huge amount of water resources in the country, at a national level there are 57% of the people in the country that have access to and use improved drinking water resource. Apart from the low access to improved water sources a significant proportion of rural water supplies in Sierra Leone either fail or fall into a state of disrepair shortly after being constructed and there are many of such water sources that only function on a seasonal basis. This implies that more than 10,000 water sources in Sierra Leone are not functioning as originally intended and represents a significant failed investment in the WASH sector (Rural Water Supply and Small Towns Water Strategy, 2013).

Executive director of Ascendant of Company Olufela Adeyemi who doubles as Consultant of LWI said they have been collecting data of water accessing in the country particularly in the Western Area Rural . “This forum is to look at what we have done and how we can partner with other organizations to increase water facility for people in the operational areas of LWI,” said Adeyemi.

LWI Operations Manager Rose Marie-Blake said her organization started collecting data since last month March. “This is a focus group discussion that will help see what we have done and how bring more ideas in improving water facility for people at different communities,” said Blake.

Despite the efforts being done by the government, NGOs and other development institutions to improve access to safe and adequate water for the people, an assessment of the rural water supply situation indicated that insufficient funding, inappropriate technology, lack of community involvement, inadequately trained personnel, and insufficient tools and equipment are some of the reasons attributing to this state of affairs. The low access to improved water source has put more burdens on women and children who are usually the primary collectors in the communities. Women and children therefore end up using up a lot of their time in fetch of potable water if the facilities are not adequately available in the community.

According to the SLDHS, 2008, water is mostly collected by female household members (57%) followed by girls under the age 15 (14%).

Having access to improved water source can be significantly compromised by poor access to improved or proper sanitation facilities. According to the WASH policy document 2008, in a broad sense, the term sanitation refers to the principles and practices relating to the collection, removal or disposal of human excreta, refuse and waste water while as adequate sanitation refers to the provision and maintenance of systems or facilities of disposing of human excreta, waste water and household refuse, which is acceptable and affordable to the Sierra Leone communities. The facilities include such things as flush or pour flush to a piped sewer system, septic tank, or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit latrine, pit latrine with slab, and composting toilet (MICS 2011).

Living Water International-Sierra Leone program was launched in the year 2007 as part of the response to the effects of the nation’s civil war, during which many wells were destroyed. The organization has been focusing on improving access to clean and safe water to the people and enhancing the hygiene and sanitation situation for the people in the community where the organization has been working.

To improve access to clean water the organization has mainly been involved in rehabilitating non functional wells and hand pumps. Recently the organization started the drilling of new wells to ensure that even communities which do not have any well to rehabilitate will still have access to the clean water. So far LW-SL has rehabilitated more than 400 wells and constructed three new wells. To compliment provision of clean and safe water in reducing water borne diseases, the organization conducts improved hygiene and sanitation trainings targeting schools and communities to teach them on proper hygiene and sanitation practices. Sanitation toilets are constructed in schools to improve sanitary facilities at the institutions. LWI-SL has also facilitated formation of organized groups at various levels such as Child Health Clubs (CHC), Students Led Total Sanitation (SLTS), Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and Youth groups.  By equipping these groups, LWI-SL will ensure creation of Open Defecation Free (ODF) environments in the target communities. More than Six hundred students are members of the Child Health Clubs.

Target beneficiaries include rural communities, community schools, households and rural health posts. LWI-SL partners with beneficiaries, Government, Donor Communities, Religious Leaders, Youth and NGOs operating in the water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector.

The organization uses the model of Christ in building relationships and trust in the communities as their sustainability model. We work in partnership with the Church in carrying out discipleship activities in the activities. Implementation of all activities is done through community structures that will be able to carry through and ensure proper utilization of the facilities.

Living Water- SL has so far been working in Port Lorko, Western Area, Tonkolili and Bombali districts. From year 2014 the activities of LW-SL will be implemented in Western Area Rural District. This concept note therefore acts as a guide for developing a Wash Program Area (WPA) in Western Rural District being a new operational area for LW-SL activities.

Despite efforts by the government and numerous non-governmental organizations, access has not much improved since the end of the civil war in 2002, stagnating at about 50% and even declining in rural areas (Wikipedia 2011). The country still faces significant challenge in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene. Availability of safe water and proper sanitation is a major factor affecting the health status of the population in the country. Overall 57% of the population is using an improved water source of drinking water and about 40% of the population uses improved sanitation facilities. According to the Baseline Study for Rural WASH in Schools Program, 2012, it shows that approximately half of primary schools have access to improved water supply and sanitation facilities. However, the compliance to the national standards for WASH in Schools is a big challenge. Only 9.5% of schools have improved water supply facilities up to the standards in their school compound and half of them are not functional, 4.6% of primary schools meet the national standards in sanitation facilities. School children in 40.4% of surveyed schools practice open defecation in school. Non-existence, unhygienic conditions of latrine and lack of privacy such as no doors are three leading causes of open defecation. (Baseline Study for Rural WASH in Schools Programme, 2012).

It is LWISL’s hope that the result of this survey will put together the appropriate facilities and also create an enabling environment to equip communities with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage these facilities and empower them to demand high-quality service from duty-bearers and; increase hygiene awareness with emphasis on behavior change by communicating key hygiene acceptable practices. Additionally, improved access to these basic amenities, such as water and sanitation, is a boost for Pillar 3 of the Government of Sierra Leone’s Poverty Reduction Strategy in meeting basic human development goals. Hence the need for a baseline studies for the selected district to guide the organization’s implementation strategy.

By Princes Pearce

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