columnBy Abdoulie G. Dibba
This column is devoted to monitor and report on issues affecting the life of the people living in the rural area and in our today's edition, we bring to the attention of the reader the concern of the rural people in terms of access to clean drinking water and the position of the Government. Other than the drudgery associated with the pounding of rice and coos for the daily meals of their families, the lack of clean drinking water added up to the burden on the rural women as they travel long distances to fetch water and do their laundries.
The Women in Central River Region from the villages of Sololo in Upper Fuladu West District, Jahour in the Lower Saloum District, Nyang'a Bantang and Nyoro Babou in the Niani Districts, have all lamented the major constraints confronting them including lack of access to clean water.
However, in April 2012, the President did indicate in his address to the National Assembly that "to address the water and sanitation challenges, there are ongoing and upcoming projects and that one of these projects is the ongoing Gambia Government - Islamic Development Bank (1DB) US$ 4.875 Million funded Rural Water Supply Project, which will provide 90-drilled wells with hand pumps, ten (10) reticulation systems with a borehole, tank and pipe distribution network to ten (10) communities".
The President indicated then that "the Project will be implemented in WCR, LRR, NBR and CRR, to benefit about 40,000 people.
He also said that the soon-to-be-completed GOTG / Japan Phase Ill Rural Water Supply Project is to provide boreholes, over-head tanks and water distribution pipe network to 15 communities and conversion of diesel pumping generators to solar pumping systems in Toniataba, Barrow Kunda and Bureng".
The president further told the National Assembly then that "in March of this year, his Government finalized and signed with the African Development Bank a 7 Million US$ Grant for a Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project to be implemented in 2012-2014 and that this project will provide: 18 new solar powered drilled boreholes and pumping units, elevated water tanks and distribution networks with public stand- taps, rehabilitate and up-grade 4 water supply facilities, provide sanitation facilities in schools, rural health centers and markets".
In addition to the statement of the President delivered in April, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affair, Abdou Kolley, in his 2013 Budget Speech told the nation that "under the African Development Bank funded Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, the main objective is to increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation in the rural areas of The Gambia from the current level of about 70 per cent to 72 per cent for water supply and from 40 per cent to 44 per cent for sanitation by 2015. It will provide safe drinking water and improved sanitation to an additional 65,000 people in rural Gambia".
This columnist will however monitor and conduct a social audit as to the impact of these interventions on the lives of the people living in the rural area.