January 22, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Since the start of the dry season, Portee – a sprawling and densely populated community east of Freetown – has grappled with acute shortage of clean water, forcing residents, especially young girls, to walk a long distance in search of water.
Many parents are thus genuinely concerned that this phenomenon could only help expose their teenage daughters to early pregnancy.
According Isatu Sesay, a Portee resident, “It is difficult for the community to have tap water to drink, except we have to depend on packet water for survival. And even for us to do our domestic work, we have to fetch water from a long distance.”
Sesay said the Ministry of Water Resources and Guma Valley Water Company have neglected that part of the city, adding that she fears their girl children could be impregnated by boys because they spend long hours at night fetching water.
Another resident, Mariatu Kamara, blamed government for the neglect, as they pay scant regard to the needs of people living in the east of the city, especially in providing water and electricity.
She revealed that, “My only daughter who is in Form 3 has been pregnant through the means of fetching water during the early hours. I am the one carrying water from the stream to do my domestic chores.”
Councillor Alusine Corade Conteh of Ward 355 in Constituency 99, also a resident of Portee, said he was in agreement with aggrieved parents that one of the challenges the community faces is acute water supply.
“I have been talking to authorities at Guma Valley for frequent provision of tap water, but taps are only open two times a week, which cannot serve the people for the whole week,” he said.
However, Councillor Conteh noted that some of the parents should rather be blamed for their children getting pregnant because of lack of monitoring, especially when their daughters go out at night or early in the morning in search of water.