Between the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing remains among the most difficult preventive actions for millions of Sierra Leoneans to serve. In fact, access to clean water is yet a challenge for many crowded urban settlements across Sierra Leone, a small nation in West Africa where an estimated 2.9 million people live without clean and potable water.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic in a nation still traumatized by some 4,000 deaths affected by the Ebola virus, flood survivors living in camps often forsake lockdown measures as they search for clean water for their households.
To assist these disaster-affected communities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS), has created water facilities with the use of Poly Glu, a Japanese water purification system.
The water plants were placed in five local communities in Sierra Leone, including the resettled community of Mile Six camp in Koya Chiefdom, which is located about 50 kilometers from the outskirts of Freetown. These solar-powered water facilities – which were installed by IOM – now are providing filtered water to more than 1,000 residents. They are now also helping the resettled community and its environs defeat COVID-19.
The community used to fetch water from unsafe sources, which include swamps and unprotected ditches located some kilometers away from the camp. Thanks to the establishment of a water facility and a purification system, community members now have enough water to drink and use for other purposes including handwashing for COVID-19 prevention.
According to Jeneba Kargbo, chair of the displaced families at Mile Six, the camp and host community are yet to register a single case of COVID-19. They continue to observe preventive measures and follow regulations of the public health emergency procedures urged by the Government.