US$10M water projects launched
Friday, April 13, 2012
The government of The Gambia in collaboration with African Development Bank and Africa Water Facility (AWF) Wednesday launched two sister projects of the National Water Sector Reform (NWSR) and Rural Water Supply Sanitation (RWSS) projects respectively, valued at US$10 million, at the Coca Ocean Resort and Spar in Bijilo.
The launching of the projects was presided over by the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou-Saidy. She told the gathering that projects are aimed at improving the living conditions particularly health of the rural poor most of whom are women and school going children. She disclosed that the rural water and sanitation project would provide access to water supply and sanitation for 60,000 and 50,000 people in 22 rural communities.
The VP underscored the importance of water, saying it is indispensable for any meaningful socio-economic development, stressing that without reliable and sustainable supply of clean water, human survival would have been a challenge. She further pointed out that without water, both agriculture and industry would all have been crippled as well as other sectors of the economy. She noted that this is why the government relevantly considered it as a basic human right.
“The launch of these two grant projects is a landmark
occasion and like others, shall leave an indelible mark on the annals of the
development history of The Gambia,” she said.
She hailed partners such as Japan, EU, Saudi Arabia and UNDP, saying their contributions have made it possible for the overwhelming majority of Gambians to have access to safe drinking water. She affirmed government's commitment to achieving 100% coverage of water supply particularly for human and agricultural purpose across the country.
VP Njie-Saidy also dilated on the sustainability of the
projects, indicating that considering the huge amount invested in these
systems, there is need for continuous protection as well as adequate
maintenance and replacement strategies to ensure sustainability. “It is however
gratifying to know that patrols by the security forces to various water
installations sites have helped to minimise the incidence of theft in these
sites,” she said, while urging the beneficiaries to be steadfast and get
committed to the protection and maintenance of this indispensable
She added: “Conventional wisdom dictates that all the
resources and efforts being put in our water sector will be short-lived, unless
we have in place a holistic system which recognises and allows for all
stakeholders to participate in the management, planning and distribution of
water.” She then urged all players in the water sector to build the
capacities and empower these communities so that their participation and
contribution in all aspects of sustaining these investments can be enhanced.
The vice president told the gathering that the government recognises the need to protect and sustain the scarce water resources, which she said, led to the adoption of an Integrated Water Resources Management system (IWRM). She explained that it is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources with a view to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner. “IWRM is a cross-sectoral policy approach designed to replace the traditional fragmented sectoral approach to water resource and management,” she further stated.
VP Njie-Saidy while stating that the government has so far registered tremendous achievements in the provision of safe drinking water to the general populace, added that more still needs to be done in sanitation. She said that concerted efforts have to be put in place to achieve the targets set by the MDGs, while challenging those responsible for the implementation of the projects to ensure that the outcomes are met with full benefits accorded to women and children.
She used the opportunity to acknowledge the AWF funded NWSR efforts, saying it is in line with the country's commitment to improved management of the country’s water resources and the national water policy roadmap for the establishment of IWRM. VP Njie-Saidy challenged the Department of Water Resources to urgently conduct a study of the country's ground and surface water resources to avoid any over-extraction of these valuable resources. She also urged them to diversify their water production techniques.
For his part, Abdou Kolley, the minister of Fisheries& Water Resources , also stressed the importance of maintaining the facilities, saying it is an obligation for the beneficiaries to ensure the sustainability of the projects. “We all know that that without water there will be no health,” he said. He added that everyone should consider water as important as health and education, noting that it is an infinity resource that should be managed rationally.
Rees Mwasambili, the representative from the African Development Bank (ADB) also outlined the importance of good drinking water, while assuring that his bank is committed to partner with the government to ensure accessibility to good and safe drinking water to all Gambians. He also called for better and successful implementation of the project.
Ousman Jarju, the director of Water Resources averred that access to water and sanitation is one of the major challenges of the 21st century. He said that ensuring effective governance of water resources is a central feature of water availability.Further dilating on the importance of water, Jarju informed the gathering that water is not only important for public health but also for general livelihood. Amadou Saine, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries & Water Resourcesalso expressed similar sentiments.
Author: Bekai Njie &Arfang Camara