The audience was flabbergasted with his harrowing statistics: “Less that 2% of Sierra Leonean households have a tap inside their dwellings, disclosed Permanent Secretary to the president Ernest Surrur.
Addressing stakeholders at a draft policy deliberation on water supply and sanitation at the Bintumani Hotel yesterday on the topic: “Fresh Water: A scarce and critical commodity”, Mr Surrur revealed that, “less that 5% have a tap in the yard; less that 20% fetch water from a public tap, and over 40% access water from dams, river, boreholes, rainwater or water carriers or tankers.”
Mr Surrur noted that, “we have a duty to change these statistics for the good of our people [and] all of us.”
He explained that, “Sierra Leone has a very favourable climate, with high rainfalls at certain times of the year, good natural vegetation and is drained by numerous rivers and creeks.
However, harnessing its water resources has been challenging. Access to basic water and sanitation facilities for the majority of the population is extremely limited.”
Mr Surrur further disclosed that in urban areas less than 50% did not have access to safe drinking water, adding that the rural areas the statistic was more disturbing as, “two-thirds of the population lacks pure drinking water… This means that majority of our people are in danger of consuming contaminated or unsafe water”.
The permanent secretary disclosed that majority of “our people resort to the use of unsafe water sources for several reasons ranging from ignorance, unavailability of potable water to poverty as provision of safe drinking water can be very costly”
He pointed out that the health implications were enormous as they caused “high morbidity and mortality amongst women and children.”
Today, Mr Surrur said, “our country is recorded as having the highest morbidity and mortality rates in the world, which is a contributing factor to the position we occupy in the United Nations Human Development Index (UN HDI). This situation is untenable and should not be allowed to continue much longer. The provision of safe drinking water has a role,” he said.
The mnister of Energy and Power, Haja Asfatu Kabba, said, “our government realizes that it will be extremely difficult to develop our economy to prosperity without sustainable development and management of our country’s water resources. Water sector development is a critical prerequisite for most other development goals. In fact, water is an “opportunity sector” for poverty reduction and bringing up economic development in a sustainable manner. The socio-economic and environmental future of Sierra Leone will depend on how sustainable water resource will be managed now and in the coming years,” she said.