ILO & SLEF Empower Women through Water Kiosk Business Initiative

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By Millicent Senava Mannah

In a significant move to combat water scarcity in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Employers Federation (SLEF), in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), has educated sixty women on the role of water kiosk businesses in five communities: Mayenkineh, Rokupa, Dwarzack, Crab Town-Aberdeen, and Lumley. This initiative is part of the : ‘Women for Water and Peace Project,’ generously funded by the UNCDF and UN Peacebuilding Fund. The event took place at the New England Ville Community Primary School in Freetown.

The project aims to install water wells to ensure a sustainable supply of purified water, particularly addressing the challenges faced by women and girls in these communities. Albert Ojo Collier, Executive Secretary of SLEF, highlighted the crucial role women play in water-related activities and the risks they encounter, such as physical violence and sexual exploitation during late-night water retrieval.

Albert Collier stated, “The ‘Women for Water and Peace Project’ is a crucial stride towards ensuring that women and girls no longer endure hardships in their quest for water.” He emphasized the importance of placing women’s groups in charge of the wells to address water issues and economically empower the community.

Professor Samuel Jamiru Braima presented on the role of women in the water kiosk business, highlighting the employment opportunities it creates for women in the community. He expressed optimism that the kiosk business would enhance women’s self-reliance, boost confidence and decrease instances of child pregnancies. The Professor urged community residents to take ownership of the wells, ensuring proper maintenance and transparency in managing funds generated from water sales for broader economic and community development.

Memunatu Doherty from SLEF delivered a compelling presentation on sexual gender-based violence, emphasizing its significant threat to the education of young girls. She expressed hope that the construction of wells would contribute to reducing such incidents and urged girls to exercise caution, especially during nighttime activities.

Expressing gratitude for the proposed wells, Josephine Dumbuya, a resident of the New England Ville community, anticipated a positive impact on their daily lives. She highlighted the challenges women face when fetching water, including exposing their girls to teenage pregnancy and delays in attending school. She also thanked the project stakeholders and urged for the swift commencement and completion of the wells to alleviate their struggles.

The ‘Women for Water and Peace Project’ signifies the commitment of SLEF, ILO, and other partners in addressing the pressing issues faced by women and girls in accessing water resources. As the project progresses, it is expected to bring lasting change and contribute to the overall development of the involved communities.



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