AfDB Approves US $43.27 Million for Sierra Leone’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group met on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 in Tunis and approved US $43.27 million (UA 28.845 million) to finance Sierra Leone’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which aims to increase access to water and sanitation in the rural areas of the country. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the Sierra Leone’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Agenda for Prosperity and achievement of the water supply, sanitation and hygiene targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The project’s specific objective is to: (i) increase sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation in rural areas, and (ii) develop a comprehensive national framework for rural water supply and sanitation investments. The project will benefit an estimated 625,000 rural Sierra Leoneans, and result in nine percentage points increase in safe water coverage, including restored access, and at least six percentage points increase in improved sanitation coverage, besides a better managed sector and improved knowledge, attitudes and practices of the primary beneficiaries.

In his presentation to the Board, Sering Jallow, Director of AfDB Water and Sanitation Department (OWAS), revealed that the project involves five districts located in the Northern, Eastern and Southern regions of the country with a current total rural population of about 1,340,000 people, expected to grow to 1,550,000 by 2018. According to Jallow, water supply coverage varies widely among the five districts with the lowest estimated at 27% and highest at 55.7% compared to the national average of 57%.

The Project is aligned with the country’s third Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013-2017: Agenda for Prosperity (A4P), which builds on the foundation established by the Agenda for Change 2008-2012, with a vision of attaining middle-income status in 25 years through inclusive green growth. The A4P has eight reinforcing pillars namely: i) Economic Diversification; ii) Managing Natural Resources; iii) Promoting Human Development; iv) Promoting International Competitiveness, v) Employment and Labour; vi) Social Protection; vii) Governance and Public Sector Capacity; and viii) Gender and Women’s Empowerment.

The human development pillar, which focuses on addressing challenges in the water and sanitation sector, education sector and promoting healthcare, provides a perfect framework for developing and implementing the proposed Rural Water Supply and Sanitation project. The project seeks to support accelerating the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially those targets related to access to rural water and sanitation in line with the National Water Policy (2010).

The project is also in line with the Bank’s 2013-2022 Strategy, particularly with regards to its focus on rural areas as a factor of inclusion, addressing climate change issues, rural private sector development and improving water-sector governance. It supports the objectives of Fragile States Facility, as well as the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative Strategic Plan (RWSSI-SP), which aims to accelerate access to safe drinking water supply and sanitation in rural Africa in a sustainable way, with the overall goal of achieving full water supply and sanitation coverage by 2025, besides the immediate objective of meeting the MDG targets in Regional Member Countries, especially in fragile states.

It is also aligned to Bank’s Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policy and Climate Risk Management and Adaptation Strategy. The project is consistent with the ADF-13 operational priorities as articulated in the Country Strategy Paper 2013-2017, especially under Pillar 2 that supports the Government’s infrastructure development agenda for inclusive green growth, with increased household access to safe drinking water and sanitation as one of the key objectives.

It will restore safe water access to 360,000 people and enable an additional 265,000 people to gain access to safe water and improved sanitation. Their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) knowledge, attitudes and practices will be improved, in addition to increased awareness of climate change effects to safe water and sanitation, and improvement of their adaptation capacity. Development Partners coordination will also be improved resulting in more efficient and equitable utilisation of available resources. The regionally balanced selection of target districts is also intended to enhance good governance and peace.

The total cost of the project is estimated at UA 28.845 million. It will be financed by the Bank Group, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID-UK), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Sierra Leone. Co-financing from DFID-UK will be GBP 5.70 million (Approx. UA 5.758 million) to be channelled and disbursed as Fragile States Facility (FSF) resources, while co-financing from GEF will be USD 4.0 million (Approx. UA 2.667). Bank Group financing comprises ADF Loan of UA 9.065 million, ADF Grant of UA 2.854 million, FSF Grant of 2.71 million and RWSSI-TF Grant of EUR 5.3 million (Approx. UA 4.607 million).

Bank Group’s portfolio for Sierra Leone consists of 10 ongoing operations at different stages of implementation, with a total commitment of UA 116.11 million.