By Aaron Bundu Lahai
The Honourable Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh on Thursday 8th December 2022 opened wash sector forum at the new Brookfields hotel in Freetown.
Vice President Jalloh encouraged participants to look at entry point for private sector participation in the water sector, noting that a mixed model of private sector intervention in the water sector yields result, and reduced burden on the national budget.
He reiterated that Sierra Leone has the chance to explore and pilot private sector participation in the water sector with governance reforms and adequate regulatory landscape.
Vice President Jalloh cited the involvement of the private sector in the Millennium Challenge Corporation water reform sector project.
He informed about the partnership of two private sector institutions with Guma Valley Water Company in the implementation of the 1.1 million Dollars result based financing project that created the water kiosk system in Aberdeen and Kingtom communities.
He noted that despite investment in the water sector by the Government of Sierra Leone and development partners, there is still gap in the sector.
He therefore reechoed the need to prioritize and strengthen private sector involvement in the sector. He therefore expressed optimism that private sector participation will make a difference.
Dr Jalloh said that the focus of the Government is to progressively increased access to safe drinking water supply service, and improved sanitation and hygiene in the country.
He noted that achieving adequate and safe water supply requires water supply infrastructure system, sound operations, and management of the facilities.
The Honourable Vice President narrated the considerable progress undertaken by Government since 2018 in the governance and access fronts.
He opined on the governance and institutional reforms undertaken in the water sector, stressing the establishment of the Water and Electricity Regulatory Commission with the aim to regulate water and electricity in Sierra Leone. On the Access front of the progress made in the water sector, he informed about the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Educational Fund joint monitoring report which indicates an improvement in the access to safe management of water supply from 71-79% in urban area between 2017 to 2021, as well as an increase of 47-53% in rural area between 2017-2021.
Despite improvement and gains made in the water sector, there are still challenges, Vice President Jalloh said.
He explained that increased geographical coverage of Guma Valley water dam, upland expansion of Freetown that is impacting the infrastructure of Guma Valley, climate control and deforestation that are posing threat to most catchment areas of Guma Dam, and the huge capital investment required to provide affordable and adequate water service as some of the challenges affecting the water sector.
He disclosed that Sierra Leone needs one hundred and sixty-four million Dollars to rehabilitate and develop new water supply infrastructure to enable the country meets the Sustainable Development Goal target by 2030 according to the Africa Water Ministers Council Report 2015.
He further lamented that Sierra Leone presently required 1.1 billion Dollars to increase water access level in the country.
Philip Lansana, Sierra Leone Minister of Water Resources stated that his Ministry strategic objective is to provide leadership for the management of water resources to enhance socio-economic development for the benefit of all Sierra Leonean households.