Sierra Leone’s First Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Conference, 2013.
A message from Momodu Maligi, Minister of Water Resources
The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has set itself the ambitious national policy targets of extending water supply and sanitation services to the population by 74% and 66% respectively by the year 2015. To achieve these targets requires a significant increase in the annual rate of water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service delivery. However, as well as the imperative to do more there is also the requirement to do things better – by working in a more professional manner. Of those WASH services that have been provided it is evident from the 2012 water point mapping survey that many are unreliable. At any one time about one third of water points in Sierra Leone that are meant to be in service are not. Furthermore less than half of the constructed water points provide water all year round. Numerous issues contribute to this failure of water points (and sanitation services) to provide sustainable services and these need to be identified if corrective action is to be taken.
The First Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Performance Review Conference in Sierra Leone – to be held on the 21st and 22nd May – aims to take stock of the current levels of WASH service delivery and will place the spotlight on the challenges and opportunities that exist. A combination of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS, 2011), Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) data and Water Point Mapping Survey (2012) all provide a snapshot of the current status of WASH in Sierra Leone at a particular moment in time. However, it is also necessary for policy makers and practitioners to understand the reasons why permanence in service delivery is not being achieved. This conference will provide an opportunity to explore these reasons in greater detail and will help to identify the key requirements that Government and its WASH partners must address. For example, two requirements for sustainability include the need for continued effective backstop support to be provided to Community Management structures through Local Councils, and the need to understand full life cycle costs when planning and designing WASH interventions. This is because revenues generated by communities through various financial contribution schemes (such as revolving funds placed in community bank accounts) may be insufficient to cover the annual recurrent costs of WASH services provided.
During the conference the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) will launch its Rural Water Supply Strategy document and set out its vision and minimum commitments for improving WASH service delivery in partnership with other central Ministries. It is evident that we all need to understand the outcomes of our interventions in the WASH sector and we need to understand the experiences of communities and end users who often take on the burden of managing water supply and sanitation services. This conference will provide an opportunity to explore alternative approaches for water supply and sanitation service delivery and to identify how we can monitor our progress towards and beyond the national policy targets.
This conference will by no means be the last word on these important issues. Yet if it can contribute to greater recognition of the challenges the WASH sector faces and point towards some important factors that can be improved upon and incorporated into national policy then it will have achieved its purpose.
We look forward to welcoming you at the conference and encourage you to tell us what your expectations are by emailing: email@example.com