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Ministers discuss protection of catchment areas

The Ministers of Water Resources, Lands, Housing and Country Planning and that of the Environment have discussed at length the protection and restoration of the Western Area water catchment areas.

The discussion in the conference room of National Water Resources Management Agency on Thursday July 9, 2020 was geared towards ensuring proper regulation, management and sustainable use of the country’s water resources, as well as ensuring that the environment is protected.

Water Resources Minister, Ing Phillip K. Lansana, said collaboration and coordination was needed to map out the roles and responsibilities of each ministry in restoring the catchment areas.

He suggested that selected catchment areas within the peninsular be protected in order to ensure enough water to serve the Freetown municipality.

On his part, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Foday Jaward, stated that because of the importance on the issue, two Ministerial Committees on Lands and Water Resources were set up. He said with the study done by the Catholic Relief Services, it should be expedited with the required funding.

Also, Lands Minister, Dr. Dennis Sandy, expressed his ministry’s commitment to the speed and efficiency of the process, and disclosed that his ministry has identified areas of engagement within the peninsular. He acknowledge the study done by the CRS suggesting the recruitment of ex-service men as guards on the protected areas and also erecting giant colored walls as a demarcation point.

Earlier, a presentation by the Catholic Relief Service of the Western Area Catchment Assessment carried out in January 2020, revealed issues of land tenure, increase in deforestation, massive land encroachment, stone mining, lack of reservoirs in some catchment areas and catchment areas left unprotected. The study suggests that all catchment areas within the Western Area should be mapped and demarcated.

Access to safe drinking water is one of the main issues in alleviating poverty and help in promoting a healthy environment. Increasing urbanization and population have resulted in the widespread clearing of forested areas and vital ecosystems.

The resulting farm bush landscape is poorly capable of retaining water, resulting in rapid surface water runoff, soil erosion and water shortages. Coupled with this, climate change may increase hydrological variability thus severely disrupting the water regimes, possibly leading to floods, drought and changes in the amount of surface runoff as well changes in groundwater levels making it more difficult to satisfy the increasing demand.

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