AYV News February 10, 2023
The Government of Sierra Leone, with support from the Government of Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF, has launched the programme “Improving Access to Climate Resilient Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Services for Improved Livelihoods and Child-Friendly Environment in Rural Fishing Communities”.
Through this programme, 53,327 people (26,130 males and 27,197 females), including children, living in 16 fishing communities will benefit from increased access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the next four years, while eight healthcare facilities across eight target communities will have access to and use basic WASH services and proper waste management systems.
This is a $ 6.4 million four-year programme that will be implemented across eight communities in Port Loko and Moyamba districts in the first phase. An additional eight communities in Bonthe, Western Rural Area, Kambia and Pujehun will receive similar support in the second phase.
“This assistance would not have come at a better time than, when the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is trying to upgrade all fish landing facilities across the coast to ensure that fish is landed in quality and in quantity. Through this intervention we will be able to maintain proper hygiene in the handling of fish and fishery products; and this will enable us to access international markets and attract better prices,” said Madam Emma Kowa Jalloh, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2017, only 16 per cent of the people in Sierra Leone have access to basic sanitation services. Sanitation coverage in rural communities is at 28 per cent.
In the Western Area Rural district, where most of the fishing communities are located, 76 per cent of the population does not have basic sanitation facilities, and illnesses linked to poor sanitation, including Diarrhea, Malaria and malnutrition are prevalent.
With respect to water supplies, 36 per cent of the population do not have access to basic water supply (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP 2021report).
This programme will therefore contribute to ensuring improved access to safe water and good hygiene by families in the target communities, while girls will be supported with knowledge and products to help them manage their menstruation in a safe and dignified manner.
In 2019, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iceland collaborated with UNICEF and the Government of Sierra Leone on the development of water and sanitation in coastal communities including Tombo, Goderich and Konacrydee (Portloko).
“Iceland is very pleased to continue this collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone and UNICEF. This project builds on lessons from our previous collaboration and applies an integrated approach to water and sanitation and improved livelihoods in coastal communities, which have been a key focus of Iceland ‘s cooperation in Sierra Leone. We look forward to working with partners on this important programme,” said Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This contribution from the Government of Iceland, comes at a time when the Government of Sierra Leone, together with partners including UNICEF, are intensifying efforts to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices as a way to protect communities from diseases such as COVID-19 and ensure that the country meets its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6 on water, sanitation and hygiene.
“UNICEF applauds this investment being made by the Government of Iceland and looks forward to work with key sector players from the Government, civil society and private sector towards a successful implementation of this programme, to jointly see how the lessons learnt and good practices could be replicated, across the country,” said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Suleiman Braimoh.
Other targets of this programme 8,033 school children (3,794 boys and 4,239 girls) from 19 schools in the target communities (including Tombo) have access to basic WASH services and practice safe sanitation and hygiene; 5,500 adolescent girls in the target communities have access to Menstrual Health and Hygiene Services in schools and at home, and practise proper menstrual hygiene management; women and men across 16 fishing communities have access to improved and hygienic fish landing and processing facilities and adopt hygienic practices toward value-added fish processing, improved sales and livelihoods; and 1,000 young children (3-5 years) in eight priority fishing communities attend Early Childhood Development centres and have enhanced opportunities for early childhood learning and development.