SIERRA LEONE: Lack of WASH facilities affects development in Port Loko District

By Diana Coker

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene arekey factors to lifting Sierra Leoneans out of poverty and in promoting socio-economic growth. Yet, millions of people living in the small West African country still do not have accessto improve water supply or sanitation facilities despite available water resources.

In the rural areas the situation is even worse as they are largely low-income communities.

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene District Engineer in Port Loko, Mr. SallieuBundu, who is responsible for providing Technical Support to Council in terms of Planning, Implementation and Monitoring in the entire District, told journalists that they are is still suffering with bad road network, lack of safe drinking water and improved sanitation and other essential services.

He said despite there are some facilities, they are not enough to meet the demands of the people.

Apart from the fact that many communities are deprived of these essential services, there is also the issue of reluctance on the side of these communities to take ownership of the available facilities and make them sustainable. The District Engineer spoke on the misuse of facilities, the inability and care-free attitude of the locals and lack of a maintenance culture. Moreover, this situation is compounded by promises of politicians during election period, assuring the people of providing them the facilities but no plans for sustainability.

Bundu made a special emphasis on the reluctance of communities to pay for water services. He dilated on some of the efforts so far made to reverse the trend in his area of responsibility, citing series of sensitization and awareness raising and trainings he has conducted for WASH, as well as the Solar and Hand Pump Technicians in the various Communities.
He disclosed most of the communities in the district do not have enough water wells or basic sanitation provisions such as toilet facilities. He singled out Masimera, Lokomasama, SandaMagbonlonton and TainkatopaMakamaSafronko as some of the chiefdoms in the Northern province of Sierra Leone with serious WASH challenges.

However, he noted that WASH-related facilities have increased recently through the intervention of Government or WASH Implementing Partners owing to the population of women and children in surrounding localities. For example, Mariatu’s Hope (a Non-governmental Organization) has intervened in KaffuBullom; UNICEF in Marampa and Koya Chiefdoms, and the Port Loko District Council and other implementing partners have intervened in other areas.

Meanwhile, Bunduappeals for reliable means of mobility to enhance effective monitoring as no vehicle was assigned to his office.

“It is very difficult to monitor such a vast district without even a roadworthy motorbike,” lamented Bundu.