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Sierra Leone News: Freetown water-catchment areas are dried up

Human activities such as farming, coal burning, land grabbing and deforestation in water catchment areas have had great impact on the supply of water in the city. An assessment conducted by the Water and Sanitation Hygiene Network (WASH-Net) in partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources and Freetown City Council has revealed that 79% of 19 water catchments areas assessed in the western rural and urban areas in Freetown have already dried up. According to Sandy Massaquoi, the Advocacy and Campaign Officer WASH-Net, 69% of these 19 catchment areas have been destroyed; catchment areas such as Blue Water, Charlotte, Deep Eye Water in the East, Lower New Testament, Dworzak, Thunder Hill, Upper and Lower Fire Mambo have been fully encroached. On Friday 14 September 2018 at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown, stakeholders responsible to protect the environment converged to review the findings of the assessment and develop an action plan to address the problems. Some of the recommendations made by the stakeholders were the planting of trees in forest areas that have been deforested, putting an end to land grabbing with immediate effect, reviewing existing policies and laws to meet current trends, implement policies and laws, develop and enforce bye-laws, improve collaboration with all stakeholders. Massaquoi said if actions are not taken, Freetown will experience severe water crisis in the future. Freetown and environs suffer a lack of water every year. The Guma Valley Water Company was established by the Guma Valley Water Act 1961 with the mandate of collecting, producing, supplying water, and caring for the forest areas. The Company is now in a state where they cannot provide clean and sufficient water for the city’s population, which has increased rapidly to almost 1.5 million inhabitants. Some of the organisations present were the Women’s Network for Environmental Sustainability, Environment Protection Agency, the National Protected Area Authority, and the Freetown WASH Consortium. EBD/17/9/18

By Edna Browne-Dauphine

Tuesday September 18, 2018.

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