By Awa B. Bah
The physical assessment of safe drinking water points and their functionalities were conducted in 2009, covering a good numbers of villages across the country, said the Fisheries and Water Resources minister, during his response to concerns raised by the National Assembly Member for Nianija, on the ministry’s level of assessment and identifying communities for the provision of safe drinking water.
The Minister further said that some of the large villages have been provided with pipe borne water, adding that those without it may have a single water source or well with a hand pump where women walk some distance to get to the water source.
He informed members that most of the small and medium sized communities have been provided with wells fitted with hand pumps, adding that the information gathered from the assessment is guiding the planning process. He said it should be realized that the provision of safe drinking water is capital intensive and needs collaborative efforts between government and donor partners to increase funding in the sector so as to increase access to safe drinking water for rural communities.
The Minister further explained that a detailed project proposal has been submitted to the African development Bank, Phase Two of the RWSSP, for consideration and that the ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for the necessary follow-ups. This was in response to a question raised by the member for Sabach Sanjal, on plans to provide safe drinking water to vulnerable communities within his constituency in particular and the entire country in general.
‘‘With support from the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development, we have secured a grant of six million dollars, to provide communities with 28 boreholes equipped with solar pumps, 28 elevated water tanks and water distribution points. The contract agreement was signed between the Department of Water Resources on behalf of government and the Engineering and Research International, ERI, for the implementation of the grant, and this was signed on the 9th April 2017 in Saudi Arabia,’’ the Minister said.
The Member for Wuli East raised concern about the Ministry’s plans to provide portable water to those in need. In response, the Minister said the following border villages in Wuli East have been already provided with safe drinking water and they are Gunjur Kuta, Mureh Kunda, Gunju koto and Makka Masireh. The Minister further revealed plans to upgrade the water supply for Gunjur Kuta, Mureh Kunda and Gunjur Koto. For the communities of Wellingara Yareh and Madina Nyantamba, the minister informed the member for the area that there are proposals for intervention for these two communities because the water table in these areas is very deep and efforts are being put in place to address the situation.
On his part, the member for Old Yundum asked whether the ministry has plans in place to increase access to uninterrupted pipe borne water to the communities within his constituency. In his reply, the Minister said the provision of safe drinking water in urban, peri urban and provincial growth centers is the responsibility of the Ministry of Energy and NAWEC; that the provision of safe drinking water to rural communities is the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources.
He said that government and partners continue to provide the capital cost of rural water supply facilities and the beneficiary will be responsible for the security, maintenance and overall management of the water facilities; that this is a prerequisite for all beneficiary villages to establish village water communities, have their maintenance funds in their village water accounts and a service provider identified to address any breakdown. The Minister was again responding to a supplementary question raised by the members for Foni Kansala and Serrekunda respectively, on the maintenance and up keep of these water supply facilities, so as to maintain uninterrupted water supply.
The Member for Lower Fulladu West said that his constituency is not privileged with hand pumps for clean drinking water and requested to know from the Minister, how soon such a facility can be provided for the people of his constituency. The minister in his response said that Lower Fulladu West has already been provided with safe drinking water in the following villages: Brikamaba, Saruja, Madina Nfally, Jahally, Fula Bantang, Denton Boiram , Njoben and Kerewan Samba Sireh. However he also revealed plans for the provision of safe drinking water to the communities of Taifa, Sarefuta, Sinchu Damballeh complex, Faraba, Nema, Konko Fula complex and Tabanani, and said work on this will commence in September 2017. The Minister added that there are plans to provide water for the following villages of Sukuru Kunda, Brikamanding, Darsilami, Jamwelly and Sinch Magai complex and Ahlulai and Sareh Buti complex.
The small and medium sized communities in Lower Fulladu West, he said, have been provided with hand pumps to supply safe drinking water and that currently government is discussing with Japanese International Cooperation Agency, JICA, and the African Development Bank to secure funding for these projects.