Water supply has been one of the priority projects under the administration of President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma whom upon assuming power in 2007, brought changes in SALWACO administration to actualize his dream. It is evident that SALWACO had been established in 2001 and had since been dormant until when President Koroma assumed power in 2007. To change the narrative of the agency, the president appointed young and dynamic men to man the water sector which has apparently yielded positive results.
The three towns water project which has today been successfully implemented by SALWACO was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the OPEC Fund for International Development with approximate cost of US$62 million. In a form of loan and grant the AfDB provided US$42.7 million and OPEC Fund for International Development provided a loan of 19.75 million, while the government of Sierra Leone provided the sum of One Billion Leones for the compensation of land owners affected by the project.
The above project comprised three components - the construction and rehabilitation of existing facilities, improved sanitation and institutional management.
Today, after over 35 years, the three provisional cities of Makeni, Bo and Kenema have ultimately got pipe borne water for citizens to have access to adequate, safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services and hence the aim and objective of the AfDB and OPEC funded project achieved. Certainly, the timely implementation of the “Three Towns Water and Sanitation Project” (TTWSSP) by SALWACO has shown the effectiveness and commitment by both the central government and the leadership of SALWACO.
Africa, according to President Obama, needs strong institutions and not strong leaders. I personally disagree with the above view simply because the effective leadership aptitude of President Koroma shown in just 8 years and that which has been demonstrated by SALWACO in this water project are clear evidences to show that Africa does not only need strong institutions but also needs strong and personate leadership.
Besides the timely implementation of the aforementioned project, SALWACO had in two years back provided the people of Kailahun and Mile 91 pipe borne water in fulfillment of President Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity. The water supply project for Mile 91 was wholly funded by Government of Sierra Leone at a tune of Le10.7 billion while the Kailahun water project was funded by EXIM Bank of India at a cost of US$30 million for the rehabilitation of existing water facilities and the construction of new infrastructure to supply clean pipe borne water in six areas.
In addition to this, SALWACO has also constructed 11 kilometers transmission line and nine kilometers of distribution lines with state-of-the-art technology treatment plant and laboratory with a 250 cubic meters of water reservoir.
Furthermore, SALWACO has also constructed 2 kilometers of transmission lines and 13 kilo- meters of distribution lines with a state of the art technological treatment and laboratory for a 750 cubic meters of reservoir at Mile 91.
Under the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (RWSSP) which Government of Sierra Leone received a blend of loans and grants from the African Development Fund (ADF), Department for International Development (DFID-UK), and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) with the objective of increasing sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation in rural areas as well as developing a comprehensive national framework for rural water supply and sanitation investment. This project which the Government of Sierra Leone is contributing 4% as counterpart fund will benefit an estimated 625,000 rural Sierra Leoneans. Notwithstanding, the project will also include the rehabilitation of 1,443 old water points & construction of 576 hand dug wells and spring boxes, 84 boreholes, 25 rainwater harvesting systems; and at least 160 Gravity Flow Scheme (GFS) taps, and 500 solar power pumped standpipes - a total of 390 sanitation facilities, including EcoSan toilets in public institutions and climate risk management
infrastructure, including 200 rain gauging stations and 20 surface and groundwater monitoring stations. The project will be executed by SALWACO and will cover five districts - Kambia, Koinadugu, Kono, Pujehun and Bonthe.
Accordingly, Kono district will benefit from the rehabilitation of 420 water points, the construction of 10 boreholes with hand-pumps, the construction of 5 boreholes with solar powered pumps and the construction of 146 public sanitation facilities. Similarly, the Kambia district in the north will benefit from the rehabilitation of 325 water points, the construction of 20 boreholes with hand-pumps, 12 boreholes with solar-powered pumps and 51 public sanitation facilities. In Koinadugu district, 330 water points will be rehabilitated, 20 boreholes with hand-pumps, 11 boreholes with solar-powered pumps and 51 public sanitation facilities will be delivered. Bonthe district in the south will benefit the rehabilitation of 200 water points, the construction of 10 boreholes with hand pumps, construction of 5 boreholes with solar-powered pumps and 69 public sanitation facilities. Pujehun district among the five districts will benefit from the rehabilitation of 200 water points, construction of 20 boreholes with hand pumps, 12 boreholes with solar-powered pumps and 390 public sanitation facilities respectively.
The construction of a total of 125 boreholes with hand pumps as well as solar powered pumps which has already begun, will according to Mr. Saffa Bockarie, Planning and Research Manager, Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) be completed in December 2016, and the full commissioning of the “Three Towns Water and Sanitation Project” involving Makeni, Bo and Kenema will as well be done in September this year.
From the foregoing, one can safely conclude that although challenges to the provision of clean and affordable water supply still remain, there is every indication from what the government has already done and continues to do to address the issue that it means well. The commitment and determination of the leadership of President Koroma is unquestionably clear on this, hence, the inclusion of water as a pillar in the President’s Recovery Priorities.