By State House Communication Unit
President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma past weekend officially launched the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector Performance Report, covering 2014-2016, and also opened the third annual WASH Sector Review Conference under the theme: "Achieving the SDG's on water and sanitation".
Delivering the keynote address, President Koroma described the theme for this year’s conference: "Achieving the SDG's on Water and Sanitation", as clear enough and forceful about what must be done as a government to achieve the SDGs targets for WASH. He said that although tremendous efforts have been made to improve the sector since the last conference, to achieve the SDG targets, government “must plan differently, implement differently, monitor differently and be more efficient in service delivery.”
The president noted that the conference, which took place at the Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen, should therefore be part of an annual Joint Sector Review process because WASH issues are critical to the country’s development as well as to the wellbeing of everyone.
President Koroma pointed out that it’s not difficult to understand that WASH issues are critical to the country’s development as well as to the wellbeing of citizens because the Ebola outbreak re-emphasized the fact that WASH interventions are fundamental in the prevention and control of diseases like Ebola. “That infamous outbreak underscored that adequate regular WASH practices, both in healthcare settings and the communities, have direct impact on health, education, human dignity, and economic development,” he said.
He recalled that since the last conference, there has been a transition from the MDG’s to the new development agenda which are very ambitious, in that the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6), calls for water and sanitation for all by 2030 as opposed to the MDG’s that only focused on increasing access. He also noted that the SDGs go beyond the MDGs in other important respects, such as water quality, water use efficiency, trans-boundary co-operation, and setting targets for the protection and restoration of critical water ecosystems.
Momodu Maligie, Minister of Water Resources said his ministry has been in strong collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to achieve the national targets, noting that the three cities water project with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB) is now providing access to water in Makeni, Bo and Kenema. Mr. Maligie went on to note that with support from Department for International Development (DFID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and AfDB, a lot of progress has been made in the sector. He reiterated his commitment to better manage water resources.
MCC Country representative Matt Lanchewry said clean water is better to life and the United States Government has invested in the water sector to help improve the condition of lives. He added that MCC is partnering with government to resuscitate support for urban WASH roadmap for public water access, and mentioned the MCC’s role in capacity building at the Water and Electricity Regulatory Commission.
UNICEF, Chief Child Survival and Development specialist, Dr Alison Jenkins, said despite the challenges, government is working relentlessly to transform the sector as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are critical components to the health of a child. Meaningful contributions were also made by country representatives of DFID and AfDB.