BY CORNELIA OLABISI THOMPSON
Water is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odourless and nearly colourless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of earth's hydrosphere and all known living organisms' fluids. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrient. Access to clean water should be a fundamental human right for everyone. Still, in Sierra Leone, seventy per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and collect most of their drinking water from polluted sources. Almost half of the people do not use a protected water source for drinking.
Water supply in Sierra Leone is characterised by limited access to safe drinking water despite the government's combined efforts with numerous non-governmental organisations. Access to clean pipe-borne water has not improved much since the end of our civil war. Stagnating and declining in the rural areas, and in Freetown, the taps are always dry. Boreholes are often dry especially during the dry season. Even with Guma Valley's efforts to construct more reservoirs and find ways to expand access to clean pipe-borne water; there is still an acute scarcity. The increase in water scarcity is devastating its citizens' health and welfare.
The prolonged water crisis magnifies the suffering of many and affects people from all works of life. Access to clean water is financially, mentally and physically a challenge. You either fetch it from far distances, wake up in the middle of the night to fetch it or pay through the nose to have it delivered. Getting access to clean water is a burden on many children who have to bring water before attending school.
Celia Thomas, a young lady who lives at William street, laments the water scarcity this week. Typically water is supplied in their area late at night. Fetching water in the middle of the night means less sleep as she has chores to do in the morning before going to school. For days now, the entire William street and other communities face water shortage. They have been using the water stored up since last week. If this crisis continues, it will be detrimental for them as they have nowhere else within their community to fetch water.
Water is a basic necessity that every Sierra Leonean should have easy access to, but, it is a challenge we are yet to overcome after many years of independence. This unprecedented water crisis is a constant threat to our children's safety and the entire nation's well-being. Amid these trying times faced with a pandemic, the water crisis will only serve to exacerbate it. Where are we heading to as a nation? Water crisis should be the least of our problems with so many rivers and high annual rainfall. But alas it remains a challenge for as long as we can remember.