The National Water Resources management Agency (NWRMA) has concluded a training of Water Catchment Management Committee members in the Western Area Peninsula in different locations around Western Area Peninsula, to better protect Freetown’s dying water catchments.
The training which started last Monday was geared towards leveraging community expertise and effort in the River No2, Tokeh, John Obey and Tombo communities respectively, to address issues affecting water catchments.
The Planning, Research and Operations manager at the Agency, Ing. Ken Tommy said it was very significant that the training started on World Water Day, which was 22nd March 2021, as it was very necessary to get everyone on board in the fight to protect our water sources.
“These committees are to serve as the Agency on the ground, ensuring that the right thing is done to ensure a sustainable protection of water resources. They also serve as a bridge between stakeholders at the bottom, and those at the top.”Ing. Tommy said the committees work closely with state actors on the ground like the National Protected Areas Authority guards, the Environment Protection Authority officials, and the law enforcement bodies like the police and the army.
The Councillor at Tokeh village, said his community welcomes the idea of being the first to benefit from the catchment management committee training, and expressed their commitment to protecting their water catchments. He however expressed concerns that as community authorities, they have been limited in the control of land use, and recent developments have seen powerful citizens acquire land that falls within protected areas.
The Chief Imam of Tombo Community, Sheikh Umar Turay, said water catchment issues bothers on the livelihood of communities in the western area, but very little political will has been shown in the past to protect it. He said his community hopes with the setting up of the Agency, there would be more committed effort in water protection.
The setting up of community management bodies is in compliance with Sections 26 & 27 of the NWRMA Act, for the efficient management of Sierra Leone’s water resources.
The training covered topics like relevant legislation that provides for catchment protection; surveillance; stakeholders’ engagement and management; mapping out organizational needs; codes of practice; monitoring and evaluation; and effective reporting.
The training sessions were peaked by the presentation of stationary and other work gears like reflector vests, and a mobile phone for monitoring purposes.
The training was supported by the Catholic Relief Services in Sierra Leone, through the Rain Project, and it was done in partnership with Youths Action for Relentless Development Organization-Sierra Leone, Guma Valley Water Company, National Protected Areas Authority, Environment Protection Agency, Freetown City Council, and the Western Area Rural District Council.
The National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA) was formed by Act No. 5 of 2017. It was one of the recommendations of the National Water and Sanitation Policy of 2010. The Agency has broad functions of regulating, utilizing, protecting, developing, conserving, control, and management of water resources in Sierra Leone.