In launching the Water Survey Report, Jamesina King the chairman of the Human Rights Commission said, “children have been forced to trade their rights to education and engage in local carts for water.”
During the launching at the Atlantic Hall in Freetown, Mrs King said since there was no access to clean and pure drinking water in the country, boys had left school and were now engaged in pushing locally made cart in search of water.
She disclosed that, “water supply is what the people need in developing and restoring our post-war country”.
The chairman of the Human Rights Commission added that access to safe drinking was not any basic right but also one of the key elements to ensure that Sierra Leoneans had adequate standard of living.
She urged the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) to continue providing the required service “in as much as we expect Guma Valley to provide safe drinking water and extend their services, we the consumers have the responsibility to pay our bills.”
The representative of DFID, Morad Braig in her remarks, said access to water was very necessary.
She revealed that 29% of the death of children was attributed to diarrhea because of lack of pure water as “DFID is a supporter of the project…for DFID this report is not the end but serves as the beginning of work to be done.”
The manager of GVWC, Darrel Thompson, said the report was based in the Western Area. He disclosed that they did not get subsidy from the government and their only means to generate income was through the bills collected and so it was extremely difficult to provide their service as possible.
The manager said there were lots of factors affecting their operations and that this included town planning and the control of public stand pools.
“Freetown is the only country in the world that people get water from stand pools free of charge,” he said
The country director of Actionaid, Tennyson Williams in his statement, said the report was not to castigate anybody “but rather a wake up call to look at the water system in the country. It is time to look at development seriously, confront the situation for the betterment of the country.”
Mr Williams disclosed that when they discussed about the PRSP nothing was mentioned about privatization and so the wake up call was made that for the privatization of 27 parastatals among which was the GVWC.
The Water Survey Report is the first activity organized by the Public Enterprise Reform Monitoring Group (PERMG) and the result from the report reveals that water as a basic right is not met.