UN, Swiss government new financing model to tackle water and sanitation challenges in Sierra Leone.

Acute water shortage in many communities in Freetown is commonplace, often leading to worsening health and sanitation.

Less than half of Freetown's 1 million population have access to pipe-borne water supplied by the Guma Valley Water Company, which is controlled by the central government.

The Freetown City Council (FCC)'s Transform Freetown Agenda-an ambitious development undertaking to tackle the city's socio-economic and environmental challenges-has at its core improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

An image of Christel Alvergne

If you don't have access to drinking water, to sanitation, then it's difficult for an economy to develop.

Christel Alvergne

UNCDF's Regional Coordinator for Western and Central Africa

The city's goal is to provide affordable and sustainable water for at least 75 per cent of the population and ensure the safe collection and management of some 60 per cent of solid and liquid waste.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), which makes public and private finance work for the poor, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which coordinates international development for the Swiss government, are supporting the FCC's WASH projects.

In December 2020, they joined the FCC to launch the Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative, which will deliver 40 water kiosks and 25 public toilets and support efforts at managing waste for the one million inhabitants of the city.

The projects will be constructed at water sources, such as boreholes and springs, and at strategic locations, such as markets and peripheral health units.

The Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative is the first fruit of the Blue Peace Finance Initiative, an innovative financing model for WASH projects co-created by the UNCDF and the SDC.

Using the same financing model, they hope to support WASH projects in other least developed countries, says Christel Alvergne, UNCDF's Regional Coordinator for Western and Central Africa, in an interview with Africa Renewal.

The model consists of a new financial market and blends public and private sector funds to finance WASH projects.

A successfully implemented project will include not just repayments of project loans, which could then unlock capital for WASH projects in other municipalities, but also financial responsibility of beneficiaries as well as the sound management of the projects.

The city's goal is to provide affordable and sustainable water for at least 75 per cent of the population...

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