Activities in Sierra Leone

Overview & key elements of interventions

The Bank Group has been supporting the water sector in Sierra Leone since 1968, and to date the total Bank Group assistance to the water and sanitation sector amounts to UA 32.66 million in five (5) operations of which four (4) have been completed:

  • Freetown Sewerage study (1978-1980);
  • Freetown water supply (1978-1982);
  • Extension of Water Supply Network(1969-1973); and
  • The Water Supply and Sanitation Study (2004-2009) that resulted in the on-going Three
  • Towns Water Supply and Sanitation project which was approved in 2010.

Safe water and improved sanitation coverage in Sierra Leone is estimated at 55%  (57% ) and 13%1 (40% considering shared sanitation facilities2) respectively, of the 5.9 million inhabitants. The high infant mortality in Sierra Leone is largely attributed to low water and sanitation coverage.  Cholera epidemics are not uncommon with the most recent having occurred in August 2012.  Progress in the sector in the coming years will require action on multiple fronts taking into account the limited financial and institutional capacities.  Recent progress in the improvement of public financial management systems, as well as sector policies and legislation, provide a good basis for intervention in the sector.

On-going projects

Three Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project: The project was approved in November 2010 and is financed with an ADF Grant of UA 14.7 million, an ADF Loan of UA 6.1 million and a Fragile State Facility (FSF) grant of UA 7.7 million, besides co-financing from an OPEC Fund for International Development loan of UA 12.85 million. The objective of the project is to improve access to adequate, potable and sustainable piped water and public sanitation services in the cities of Bo, Kenema and Makeni by 2015.  The main activities include: institutional capacity building, including sector staff training and setting up of community-based management structures; rehabilitation and expansion of the water supply and waste water disposal systems; construction of sanitation facilities in public institutions; sanitation & hygiene education; as well as cross cutting activities related to poverty, gender and environment.  As a result of the project, an estimated 360,000 people living in the three towns will gain access to safe water, and 180 sanitation facilities will be constructed in schools, public health units and markets. The key expected outcomes include reduced drudgery of collecting water for the women who make up 51% of the population in the three towns; facilitating increase in school enrollment for girls; as well as contributing to reduction of the presently high infant mortality rate. The project is expected to be completed by December 2015.

Projects due for Approval

Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (RWSSP): Approval of the project is planned for September 2013.  Identified as an operational priority under ADF 12, the project will be financed with an ADF loan of 9.065 million, an ADF Grant of UA 2.854 million, and FSF Grant of UA 2.71 million, and co-financing of UA 8.847 million comprised of a DFID Grant of GBP 6.00 million and a GEF Grant of USD 4.00 million.

The project aims 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 be implemented in five districts of Bonthe, Kambia, Kono, Koinadugu and Pujehun and main activities include: institutional capacity building, including sector staff training and setting up of community-based management structures as well a supporting general sector development; rehabilitation of old and construction of new water supply points; in addition to cross cutting activities related to gender, climate change adaptation, and environment.  As a result of the project, an estimated 625,000 people leaving in the five districts will gain access to safe water, and 390 sanitation facilities will be constructed in schools, public health units and market places. Thirty water sector professionals and 165 small scale service providers, mainly comprised of youth, will be trained, and over 1000 WASH Committees will be formed and trained for the management of their water and sanitation facilities. The key expected outcomes include reduced drudgery of collecting water for the women who make up approximately 53% of the population in the rural areas; facilitating increase in school enrollment for girls; and contributing to reduction of the presently high infant mortality rate, besides improvement in overall sector management. The project is expected to be completed by December 2017.

Main Issues

A water point mapping exercise completed in May 2012 underscores the need for technical guidelines and strengthening of user ownership and management, standardisation of hand pumps and improving coordination among stakeholders, including development partners, as well as strengthening sector monitoring. The data provides a clear empirical case for further investments, and a basis for prioritizing the investments. Thousands of water points require repairs and many new points need to be built. Detailed, systematic investment planning is required to identify areas of particular need. The RWSSP will largely address these issues.  Nonetheless, the effort will have to supplemented with urban water supply and sanitation subsector development proposals which may be financed by the Bank during the ADF 13 period.

Moving Forward

In accordance with the Government’s priority to further develop the water sector and its expressed wish for the Bank to strengthen its engagement in the water sector, among others, under the PRSP III – Agenda for Prosperity, future focus is aimed at supporting the revamping of Freetown’s and other small towns’ water supply and sanitation systems, including the necessary utility management reforms.  Strengthening collaboration with other Development Partners active in the water sector will be critical to the success of Bank’s engagement in the sector, and the Bank’s local presence, reinforced by the recent posting of an international sector specialist at the country office, will go a long way in fostering the necessary interventions.

Latest update May 2013

Did you know

During 2014, the Bank Group approved operations in the water supply and sanitation sector amounting to US$ 390 million, including special funds transactions.

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