Current Challenges of the Water Crisis in Sierra Leone
The western African nation of Sierra Leone houses over seven million people, where nearly three-fourths of them live in poverty. Sierra Leone has faced numerous challenges in its recent history, resulting in widespread displacement, poverty, and inadequate infrastructure. One critical issue hindering progress for the population is the limited availability of clean water. With an influx of people relocating to the country’s capital, Freetown, has strained the housing market, leading to a shortage of adequate living conditions. Consequently, thousands of men, women, and children have gone without proper hygiene facilities and clean water infrastructure, and continue to go without them today.
The absence of clean water in Sierra Leone has dire consequences, contributing to elevated mortality rates, persistent illness among children resulting in missed school days, and families unable to work due to the significant time spent gathering water daily. And despite all of the challenges faced by Sierra Leone, ensuring access to clean water for all must be prioritized. However, with some help with water management and education, we at Healing Waters International believe the men, women, and children of Sierra Leone can truly begin to thrive.
For years, illegal diamond mining and deforestation were commonplace. These unregulated acts have degraded the land and tainted the water sources, particularly in rural areas. Residents of rural communities who depend on ground or surface water sources are constantly threatened by contaminated water, but most cannot afford clean water sources, many of which are located miles away.
Clean water is already difficult enough to come by with so many polluted sources already in existence, and the weather and environmental conditions in Sierra Leone do not help. As it stands, Sierra Leone only collects a fraction of freshwater compared to countries of a similar size. It is especially challenging to find enough clean water to meet demand during the dry season, which peaks from February through April, but tends to last half a year throughout the colder months. Rainy summer months aren’t always ideal for water collection either, since intense rains and flooding contribute to pollution. Heavy rains fill wells with waste water runoff, which can contaminate water that once could be used for drinking. While we cannot control the weather patterns, the people of Sierra Leone can take charge of the source of pollution to stop the contamination of water sources during the rainy season.
The largest culprit of pollution stems from the agricultural industry. An exuberant amount of the available freshwater sources go toward agriculture, but the industry isn’t able to sufficiently feed its population. This means Sierra Leone ends up receiving a lot of its food from other countries, driving the cost of food up.
Unfortunately, since the industry isn’t keeping up with food production, it ends up harming more than helping. Since chemicals are often used to aid crop growth, nearby surface water sources end up polluted and become dangerous to the rural residents who rely on groundwater sources.
Health & Hygiene Education
Poor hygiene practices are a major concern for nearly the entire country. Water-related illnesses spread quickly due to over half the population going without basic sanitation facilities. In fact, over a quarter of the country has to defecate in the open, polluting nearby water sources, especially during flooding from the rainy season. While the government works to install more handwashing and sanitation infrastructure, it is still important for people to educate themselves on the dangers of polluted water and the importance of proper handwashing to stop the spread of disease. These same concerns are echoed in many parts of the world where Healing Waters works today, highlighting the urgent need for improved hygiene practices and access to clean water. Together, with our other impactful solutions, we strive to create a better future for communities around the world.
How a Custom Water Filtration System Can Help
So how can we provide clean water for Sierra Leone? In 2013, through the generosity of private donors and the help of local partners, Healing Waters deployed a highly-portable, compact Ultrafiltration water system with integrated bottle washing to a clinic in Kabala. In 2019, a similar solution was delivered to a nearby children’s center to provide reliable purification of untreated water containing E. coli and Coliform Bacteria. Our solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. We access the needs of the community to provide the right size and power, whether it is electric, solar, or gravity-fed. Our designs are all meant to be sustainable, affordable, easy-to-use, and completely customized. In the end, the solution cleans the available water sources, providing reliably clean drinking water to the community.
What Can You Do to Support the Cause?
We believe everyone has a right to water that is completely safe. We also believe everyone should share this vision! Everyone deserves the opportunity to live life for more than just survival. This is why we make it our mission to provide clean water for all! If you want to learn more about our vision, check out some of our past projects in all parts of the world!
We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.