Guma & Stakeholders Discuss Projects Long-Term Goals & Challenges

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By Amin Kef Sesay

On Friday 2nd October, 2020, the Steering Committee of the Freetown WASH and Aquatic Environment Revamping Project (WASHERP/Aquatic) and the Freetown Water and Sanitation Master and Investments Studies (FWSSMPIS), held its inaugural meeting at the Golden Tulip at Aberdeen Freetown. The meeting was convened in order to establish long-term goals of the projects as well as to discuss the challenges that has been envisaged.

The Managing Director of Guma Valley Water Company, Maada S. Kpenge, in his welcome address reminded the Committee members of the President’s determination to achieve universal access to water supply for every citizen by 2028.

Mr. Kpenge said the Master Plan Project will highlight the way forward to permanently address water supply issues in the Western Area, whilst the WASHAERP/Aquatic Project will help to achieve those medium-term goals for Freetown’s water supply by increasing access by 15%, reducing water losses significantly; construction of new facilities and rehabilitating existing service reservoirs thereby making the water supply infrastructure more resilient.

The Guma MD noted that the WASHAERP/Aquatic Project is unique in the sense it is not only dealing with issues related to water supply, but also reforestation of the water catchments in the Western Area, Sanitation, livelihood restoration and job creation.

Her Worship the Mayor of Freetown ,Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, speaking during the meeting said the Sanitation component of the WASHAERP/Aquatic project which aims to improve sanitation by 7% has a huge potential to benefit the lives of Freetownians as it would complement ongoing strides by the Freetown City Council to properly managed solid and liquid wastes in the municipality. She said the reforestation component of the project also resonates with the “Freetown the Tree Town project” which aims to plant over a million trees to make Freetown a greener, healthier and more inclusive city.

In her statement, the Chairman Board of Directors of Guma Valley Water Company, Hon. Bintu Myers said under the direction of the Board and in line with the vision of the Government to ensure sustainable water supply delivery to all in the country; the Management of Guma has embarked on a systematic but aggressive approach to address the water challenges in the Western Area.

Hon. Bintu Myers said the Board is grateful to the Government and Development partners (African Development Bank, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, DFID, World Bank, MCC, etc.)  for the support they have been giving to Guma to implement ongoing projects like the Master Plan, Freetown Water Supply Rehabilitation Project, Freetown Emergency Recovery Project, The Threshold Project; all aimed at improving the performance and sustainability of Guma.

The Guma Chairman said the WASHAERP/Aquatic project is intended to provide the necessary complementarity and maximized the impact of the other ongoing projects to address the challenging water supply situation in the Western Area. She called on members of the Steering Committee to work together to ensure that all the project outputs are sustainable, delivered on time, within budget and to the satisfaction of the people of Sierra Leone.

Delivering his speech at the meeting, the Minister of Water Resources and Chairman of the Steering Committee, Ing. Philip K. Lansana said the Government’s New Direction Agenda for national development is built on eight (8) strategic drivers, including water and sanitation; and with special focus on increasing access to improved water supply and sanitation services and hygiene.

The Minister added that it is estimated that Sierra Leone stands to derive 15% of her GDP from reaching universal access to water and sanitation and therefore the Government is very passionate about the sector and is taking tangible actions to transform it.

Minister Lansana went on to state that Government through Grant assistance from the African Water Facility (AWF) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, has secured the needed financing (EUR 2.973million) for the Master Plan and Investment Studies Project and is assiduously working through the Ministry of Finance to secure the estimated USD 192 Million donor pledges for the WASHAERP/Aquatic, of which about 48% has already been approved.

The Minister called on the Committee members to work effectively as the “President has a keen interest in these projects and sees the WASHAERP/Aquatic in particular as a test case of our capacity to implement large investment projects in the water supply and sanitation sector. I am convinced that with the right commitment this team will steer the delivery of the project and thereby open doors for further investments into the sector”.

The Project Steering Committee (PSC) core activities include strategic policy direction, oversee planning, review progress and impact and review/ approval of annual work plans and budgets of the projects.

Its membership comprises one representative each from the relevant Ministries and Agencies; Finance, Water Resources, Local Government, Health and Sanitation, Lands, Housing & Country Planning, Gender Social Welfare & Children Affairs, Youth Affairs, Water Resources Management Agency, Electricity and Water Regulatory Authority, Guma Valley Water Company Board, Guma Valley Water Company, Freetown City Council (FCC), Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (SLANGO), etc.

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