March 17, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Women smile as they fetch water from the newly renovated water pumps in Rosinor and Koya villages
Sixty communities in three chiefdoms within the Kambia district have benefited from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported project,funded by the Government of Japan.
The beneficiary chiefdoms in Kambia district include Gbinleh Dixing, Magbema and Samu. 15 communities each in Gbinleh Dixing and Magbema chiefdoms and 30 communities in Samu chiefdom, benefitted from WASH facilities, livelihood support and governance.
In the area of WASH, UNDP’s implementing partners, which include Graceland Sierra Leone and German Kooperation (GEKO), rehabilitated and transformed water wells with hand-pump wells, health centres and donated motor bikes to health centres to enable them convey pregnant women during labour, as well as convey sick people to health centres.
In the area of governance, they trained and formed Village Development Committees (VDCs) as advocacy bodies for development in their communities. In the area of livelihood, they formed and established the Village Saving Loans (VSLs) and that boxes were allocated to various villages to encourage them start banking meagre sums of money for a period of time, before they could be opened and proceed shared among the contributors.
At Rosinor village, in the Samu chiefdom, where a Child Health Post (CHP) and a hand-pump well were rehabilitated, Zainab Kamara, a member of the Village Development Committee (VDC), said they used to contract diseases like cholera and diarrhea due to the impurity of the water they used to access from the stream.
She noted that since the hand-pump well was rehabilitated by Graceland with support from UNDP, they no longer contract such diseases.
“We were also having a CHP which was having a leaking roof but this project has rehabilitated it for us. We want to use this opportunity to tell UNDP that this CHP has 22 catchments villages and we need another one to salvage our health problems,” she said.
Lamin Yillah, Chairman of the VDC, said they have started to save their monies in the Village Saving Loans (VSLs) but the boxes that were given to them were not enough, adding that they have three padlocks which were kept by three people, that were part of the process and cannot be opened without all of them.
Ibrahim Sorie Suma, Chairman of the VDC at Mafaray village in the Gbinleh Dixing chiefdom, said they were lucky to benefit from numerous UNDP projects and that they have been able to save monies, agitate for development project, urge donors to do consultation with them before doing anything within their village, among other things.
Youth Chairman, Sorie K. Kamara, said he has been trained on how to maintenance the pumps should in case they get any fault.
Mbalu Turay, VDC Chairlady, said all the women that have been trained by UN Women, especially in the area of governance of their villages, have been able to advocate for development.
She noted that they have prepared an action plan that every donor organisation could us to help them in their village.
“The provision of the water pump has saved us from the worries that we used to face in this village. Previously in this village, baboon used to chase us while coming from the stream,” she recalled.
All of these projects, according to Mary Turay, Project Coordinator for the Japan funded project, came about as a result of the Ebola which affected the country’s health system, the economy, education, and many other sectors.
He said UNDP, with fund from the government of Japan, intervened to address some of the challenging issues that were highlighted by the communities.
“People lost their lives, some lost their means of livelihoods, breadwinners, and their mental health was affected. We used to do psychosocial counselling but this project is to complement government’s recovery plan. The Japan government saw that there was a need to fund UNDP who in turn partnered with the government of Sierra Leone to do the recovery,” she explained.
She said when the Japan government provided the fund, UNDP called for proposals through advertisements and interested Community Based Organisations (CBOs) applied and were scrutinised before they were awarded the task to implement.
She disclosed that there were two Japan funded projects at the moment-the first being the strengthening access to health care and community-led development project, which has three components that include WASH, livelihood and governance, while the second is Supporting and Strengthening Sub-Regional Post Ebola Medical Surveillance and Socio-economic Initiative in West Africa.
Having done the monitoring of the projects throughout the three chiefdoms in Kambia district, the Project Coordinator said she was satisfied with the way the projects were implemented by Graceland Sierra Leone and GEKO.
She, however, expressed that they were able to observe that the beneficiaries wanted more support.
Administrative and Finance Officer of Graceland Sierra Leone, one of the implementing partners, Sahr Morchendeh, said they consulted people in all the villages where they rehabilitated health centres, water pumps, and formed the Village Development Committees and Village Saving Loans.
He added that people were involved in all of the works that were done and were given cash-for-work.