Parliament approves US$8m loan for rural water supply and sanitation


Members of Parliament last week gave the green light to a set of loan agreements between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Africa Development Bank, worth $8 million, to finance the rural water and sanitation projects.

The agreements, tabled in Parliament by the Minister of State, Finance and Economic Development, Alhaji Foday L. Mansaray, seek to provide safe drinking water for more than six hundred rural people, including 47% of women, plus to restore access to water and sanitation to three hundred and sixty-one people. It will be implemented over a period of five years in five districts: Kono, Koinadugu, Kambia Pujehun and Bonthe.

In his presentation, the Minister of State told lawmakers that the project has four components: water supply and sanitation infrastructure, national rural water supply and sanitation program development, capacity building and project management.

Alhaji Mansaray said the collective objective of the components are to provide water supply and sanitation infrastructure for the rehabilitation of 1,440 obsolete water points and construction of 570 hand-dug wells and spring boxes, 90 boreholes, 25 rainwater harvesting systems and at least 160 gravity flow schemes taps and 250 solar power pumped standpipes, while 390 sanitation facilities, including EcoSan toilets will be erected in public institutions.

He noted that the projects encompass climate risk management infrastructure, including 200 rain-gauging stations and 20 surface and groundwater monitoring stations.

It is envisaged that the loan will help train 30 professionals in water resources and climate management, as well as 160 small scale service providers, plus Community Based Organisations and community leader. The Sierra Leone Water Company will implement the project.

According to the minister, Government is expected to repay the principal of the loan for a period of 40 years, which will commence after a ten year grace period.

In his contribution to the debate, Hon. Rado Yokie of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, representing Bo District, appealed for the judicious utility of the loan money. He averred that if the executing agency diligently utilizes the loan for its intended purposes it would enhance human development in country. He urged that the Finance Ministry or the executing agency provide timely and good reports on how the monies will be expended.

Hon. Hassan Sheriff of ruling All Peoples Congress said it was the duty of government to provide essential health services to rural people and the citizenry.  He said training and building the capacity of service providers, as indicted in the project, would improvement the health sector.

On his part, Hon. Eric Koedoyoma of the opposition said the agreement was timely as most communities in his district, Kono, urgently need pipe-borne safe drinking water, adding that water is very essential to the livelihood of rural communities. He implored the Ministry of Water Resources and the Sierra Leone Water Company to judiciously use the money in the interest of the people and the country.