The Minister of Environment Professor Foday Moriba Jaward, has disclosed to Head of Ministries Departments and Agencies ( MDA)that deforestation is a serious threat to water supply in Sierra Leone. Large-scale cutting down of trees, construction of buildings and other environmentally unsustainable practices, in and around the capital city’s water catchment area according to experts, accounts for some of the main reasons why Freetown is plagued with water shortages particularly during the dry season. The discussions were held at the request of Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, with the aim of heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies working together to formulate a plan of action to protect water catchment areas in the country that are under threat. Addressing heads of MDAs, minister Jaward spoke of the need to work together to save the people of Sierra Leone from further environmental disasters, adding that deforestation, encroachment on wetlands, climate change and other factors are posing significant threats to the protection of water catchment areas, thereby causing serious water shortages in the country. He further stated that it is as a result of the forgoing reasons that the government has given a directive for the setting up of an inter-ministerial team to come up with a well defined sustainable strategy, that would help to ameliorate the suffering caused by water shortages. In response to this emergency, three sub-committees have been set up and assigned with tasks. Subcommittee 1 will identify water catchment areas within the Western Area for policing, while subcommittees 2 and 3 will conduct community engagement and public relations respectively. All committees have carried out preliminary tasks and have reported back to the general committee on their findings. The report of subcommittee 1 in particular presented a grim picture of the level of encroachment and deforestation that has taken place over the years. It found that human activity is a key factor causing environmental degradation in and around water catchment areas. Sub-committees 2 and 3 have also begun the process of community mobilization, sensitization and awareness raising particularly in communities that are within the water catchment areas. The committee’s report is being prepared and would subsequently be presented to the Vice President, detailing a number of recommendations as to the necessary measures that are to be taken.
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