Sierra Leone faces major challenges in safe water provision, particularly in rural areas where over 50% of the population lacks access to an improved water source. Even where improved sources such as boreholes are available, it is estimated that approximately 95% of sources are contaminated by diseases linked to poor sanitation such as E-coli. As in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of access to safe water or to any other means of purification means that rural households are forced to boil water in order to purify it, thereby causing significant damage to ecosystems and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
CO2balance are working closely with CODE-SL, a local organisation in Sierra Leone, to rehabilitate and maintain boreholes and to ensure that good sanitation practices are followed in communities. The sanitation element is crucial, as it is crucial to keep the area around the borehole free of contamination to ensure that safe and clean water continues to flow for the community. The project is initially being implemented in Kono district in the East of Sierra Leone and will hopefully expand to other districts in the coming years.
In the initial phase of the safe water project in Sierra Leone, communities throughout Kono district are gaining access to safe water and receiving comprehensive support on how to maintain the borehole. Village Pump Minders are receiving extensive training on borehole maintenance, whilst whole communities are being engaged in good sanitation practices to ensure that the borehole cannot become contaminated. This is greatly reducing pressure on the forests by reducing the need for firewood, whilst ensuring that time spent collecting water and firewood is greatly reduced for all community members, in particular women and children, on whom the burden of these tasks falls disproportionately.