ADVOCACY INITIATIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT (AID)
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Hurtful climate changes are no stranger to Sierra Leone in recent years. A heavy downpour of rains that lead to flooding and destruction of human lives and properties; mudslide/landslides; and unpredictable weather conditions that negatively affect farmers are some of the ways the country has been suffocated by climate changes. Some of these harmful climate changes are unfortunately triggered by Sierra Leonean citizens.
In a study undertaken by WASH-Net, Ministry of Water Resources, Freetown WASH Consortium, and Guma Valley Water Company, out of 19 water catchment areas assessed, all have been invaded by citizens for cultivation and construction purposes. The consequences of such human actions are terrifying. A total of 79% of these water catchment areas have dried up; and 59% have given way to the construction of houses, cultivation, and merciless timber logging. Coastal areas have particularly been prey to flooding, soil erosion, and devastating storms that significantly reduce their agricultural and fishing productivity – hence, partly responsible for deepening the poverty levels in those areas.
The UNDP’s five-year Project titled: ‘Adapting to Climate Change Induced Coastal Risk Management in Sierra Leone’ is one of the innovative contemporary ways to mitigate the dreadful effects of climate changes in coastal areas of the country.
AID Sierra Leone in partnership with Climate Change, Environment & Forest Conservation Consortium Sierra Leone (CEFCON-SL) directly worked with one hundred and eighty (180) women and youths in Lakka, Tombo, Conakry Dee, Hamilton in the Western Area Rural and Port Loko and Kagboro, Moyamba and Turtle Island Bonthe Districts communities on this project. Climate change education training was developed and delivered to raise the awareness of citizens about the negative effects of human-facilitated climate changes in the communities.
Sierra Leone happens to be a country that has been experiencing dreadful climate change effects in recent years. There are a plethora of state and non-state actors that do make varied, and unfortunately not too very successful attempts to mitigate the scourge of climate changes, especially in the provision of water services in the country.
As much as state authorities take primacy in making decisions to enhance the resilience of communities to harmful climate change hazards, ordinary citizens and other organized non-state actors too have been contributing significantly over the years in achieving the desired goal. It has been discovered that the inadequate, if not lack of harmonization of strategies and collaboration among the diverse state and non-state actors make it daunting to efficiently checkmate the hazardous effects of climate changes in the country. Alarmingly, up to 30% of all Sierra Leonean schools are managed without running water.
Planning, including communication to combat unfavourable climate change effects to water services, has been lopsided and disjointed, and so is the implementation of programmes at the community levels. Generally, referencing the AMCOW/WHO/JMP, 57% of the country’s population has access to safe drinking water. Despite serious efforts, Sierra Leone has not been successful in meeting its target to cut by 50% the segment of the population that goes without adequate sanitation and safe drinking water.