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CRS partners with NWRMA, FCC to seek validation of WAPWF

February 4, 2021

CRS Country Representative, Paul Emes

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, National Water Resources Agency, Freetown City Council, and its partner The Nature Conservancy presented the Western Area Peninsula Water Fund (WAPWF) Business Case report to key stakeholders during a validation workshop held in Freetown.

The event brought together more than forty participants from government, private sector, academic, and civil society institutions active in the water and environment sectors in Sierra Leone.

The Western Area Peninsula Water Fund aims to convene and coordinate stakeholders at all levels to facilitate investments in nature-based solutions for the protection and restoration of the Western Area Peninsula National Park, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the Western Area Peninsula’s water supply for future generations.

In his opening statement, the Country Representative for CRS Sierra Leone Paul Emes said “Urban resilience is a priority for CRS and water security is key to building more resilient cities. As part of our urban resilience portfolio, we have partnered with The Nature Conservancy and government partners, to create the Western Area Peninsula Water Fund, which we hope will be West Africa’s first financially sustainable Water Fund.  

The Business Case analysis demonstrates that every USD 1 invested by the WAP-WF in nature-based and community-based solutions is expected to generate at least USD 2.70 worth of benefits to stakeholders. Nature-based solutions thus offer clear returns on investment in terms of water security, ecotourism, reduced vulnerability to floods and landslides, and sustainable livelihoods.”

The Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Hon. Nimatulai Bah-Chang welcomed participants and echoed the importance of the Western Area Peninsula Water Fund as an essential part of the UN sustainable development GOAL 6 and the priority for the Government of Sierra Leone as manifested in the medium-term national development plan to increase access to clean water in Sierra Leone.

Hon Nimatulai Bah-Chang said: “The Western Area Peninsula water catchment is home to about 2 million habitants. It houses the Guma Valley Water Company reservoir which is responsible to supply water to residents of Freetown.

The Water Fund will enable us to use nature-based solution that represent an effective and financially solid solution that aims to protect and restore the Western Area ecosystem and tackle the growing water problem in the Western Area Peninsula. The Government of Sierra Leone recognises the importance of preventing and perverse water catchments, so I assured the political will to ensure we restore and prevent the water catchment areas and improve access to clean and sustainable water in Sierra Leone.”

The Business Case report proposes several conservation interventions, ranging from forest restoration, fencing of the park’s 90-kilometer perimeter, the promotion of agro-forestry on the edges of the park, as well as improved park management, to name but a few. In addition, a number of enabling interventions, focusing on advocacy, awareness raising, and social mobilization were also proposed and discussed.

The validation workshop also provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders to collectively brainstorm on the structure and composition of the Water Fund’s future governance board which is expected to have representatives from public, private, and civil society organizations in both upstream and downstream communities.

The Western Area Peninsula Water Fund will directly contribute to achieving targets set under the Mayor’s Transform Freetown resilience cluster and Goal 3 of the National Water Resources Managements Agency strategic plan 2019-2023 to protect watershed and water catchments against deforestation and other environmental problems.

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