GEF and UNDP improving Adaptive Capacity to Water Resources in Sierra Leone

January 15, 2020

Osman S. Turay is a resident and Secretary to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Committee of Gbalan-thanllah Village in the Masungbala section, Kambia District fetching water from one of the UNDP-GEF supported water facilities. ©UNDP Sierra Leone/Mohamed Kanu

 Improving access to clean water and ‘bringing smiles’ to rural communities  

“Before this time, women and children would trek one and half miles to fetch water from the river for drinking and other domestic purposes. We had difficulties fetching water. But now, we are not suffering… And the water which we now fetch from the newly constructed UNDP supported borehole facility is good for drinking purpose and has no problem”.

Osman S. Turay is a resident and Secretary to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Committee of Gbalan-thanllah Village in the Masungbala section, Kambia District.

Women and children in Gbalan-thanllah no longer bear the pain of carrying a five-gallon or more container of water on their head that is barely drinkable. Before UNDP’s support to the village, Children spent hours fetching water from a river and stood the unwavering-risk of drowning when the tides are high. People use the riverside for bathing therefore, water fetched from the river was not safe for drinking and posed high risk of water borne diseases.

Now, Gbalan-thanllah village has 6 running taps in different locations within the village including 18 inches tall tap located nearby the entrance of Gbalan-thanllah Maternal and Child Health Care Post (MCHP), serving an estimated population of 466 community people.

As he fetched water from the solar-powered water facility, Osman exuberant smiles gives away his passion for his task at hand; improving the health of his village through better hygiene and sanitation.

“My village is my home and I am fulfilled now that everyone in my village now has easy access to clean drinking water, and the young children no longer stand the risk of being drowned by a river”.

Very timely indeed, UNDP’s Sustainable Water Project reached his village and a 30-member WASH Committee with 50% females was established. The role of the WASH Committee is to assure village ownership, management and protection of the water facility. Just after the committee usual Friday meetings where they discuss community development issues, Osman would lead committee members who will volunteer, and embark on house-to-house visit to collect the sum of one thousand Leones from household heads for maintenance of the facility citing instances of broken pump heads and that were replaced using funds generated from local revenue streams.

Very soon, Osman hopes to be enrolled into a university and finally move to a city. He believes that his decision to further his studies will not cast a slue to his passion, and he and his WASH Committee members are still heartily revered in the village for embracing and providing ownership to a development initiative and are motivated by the work they do. Osman considers himself a natural leader and hope that he not is kept afar from his birthplace.

As he awaits admission into a university, he is very happy to share similar aspiration and work with UNDP and grateful for its intervention which he said has “brought life” to Gbalan-thanllah village.

Fanta Kabba is a nurse at Gbalan-thanllah MCHP. She reported that illnesses due to water borne diseases have reduced drastically following the construction of the solar-powered borehole facility.

The Adaptive Capacity to Water Services Project is GEF funded through UNDP. The project aims at building capacity of the water resources sector through institutional strengthening, awareness raising, regular dialogue with parliamentarians, traditional leaders NGOs, CBOs, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders on the impacts of climate change. The project also aims at protecting the natural water resources, supporting to build water facilities for community people and creating awareness among people on climate change. The project has been implemented in Kambia, Kono, Pujehun and Western Area Districts through partners and the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR).


Contact information

UNDP Sierra Leone Communications Unit, call +232 99 289 955, or email