May 18, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone yesterday brought together relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to find ways of addressing the current water shortage in Freetown, as well as other parts of the country.
For several weeks now, people residing in the country’s capital city, Freetown, have been complaining about shortage of water, with some staying up until late hours just to fetch water. Civil society organisations and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone have both expressed dissatisfaction with the way the authorities have handled the crisis, although the Ministry of Water Resources and Guma Valley Water Company have urged for patience, saying they are working to find a lasting solution to the problem.
During the engagement, the commission’s vice chairperson, Mrs. Daphne Olu-Williams registered their grave concern about the acute shortage of clean, safe and affordable drinking water in Freetown and other parts of the country.
According to her, the effects of the current shortage of water on the enjoyment of other rights such as education, health, security of person and human dignity was grave.
She said the meeting was as a result of commitment they made in a press release they issued recently to continue monitoring the situation and engage relevant state institutions in order to ensure that water supply improves and the right to access safe, clean and affordable water was fulfilled.
“The reason for this discussion is to find ways of addressing the problem in a very strategic and constructive manner, using the 1992 Dublin Principles for Water which state that water development and management should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels,” she stated.
Madam Olu-Williams added that the engagement would help to develop a road map to achieving sustainable management and supply of water across the country.
Also, HRC-SL chairperson, Brima A. Sheriff spoke briefly about the establishment of the commission by an Act of Parliament in 2004 to protect and promote human rights in the country.
He said since its establishment, they have taken lead role in building a culture of human rights, including respect for individual responsibilities and maintained human dignity for all in full compliance with the constitution, laws, international and regional instruments.
Head of Corporate Services in the Sierra Leone Police, Chief Superintendent Emmanuel S. Kargbo, said the force was also concerned about the shortage of water especially when they are planning to embark on massive recruitment.
Policy Analyst in the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) at State House, Jessica Gooding, said her unit was working hard to addressed the issue, adding, “We have already lay down plan to supply water to different communities for ninety (90) days. We are also looking at the possibility of having boreholes and building of a new dam at River Rokel.”
Participants from various organisations made meaningful contributions and recommendations as to how the current water crisis could be addressed.