Turn on the Taps: A JHR reporting trip brings clean water to Rural Sierra Leone

Diana Coker tries the taps in Kambia, Sierra Leone
Diana Coker tries the taps in Kambia, Sierra Leone

The taps were shiny and new. A much needed source of clean, safe water. But when you turned them, nothing came out.


That was Diana Coker’s discovery on a recent JHR reporting trip. Diana, a reporter with AYV Radio in Freetown started to investigate. The public water taps in Kambia, a small town near the border with Guinea, were installed in February with help from the Japanese government. But in May they were all turned off. It turned out that the government had promised $17,500 to keep the taps running, but had only paid out $9,300. Barely enough to cover the construction costs. An engineer with the water company explained that it cost $50 per day to pump the water and restore the supply. Without government funds and collection of $3.50 monthly household user fees, no water would flow. 


In a region with recent cholera epidemics, people were using unclean water sources. After Diana’s story aired on the radio, the local town council turned the water taps back on. Officials are starting to go house-to-house to collect fees and people are more aware of why the fees are important. So far the national government has not produced all of the promised funds, but Diana is following the story and pressure is mounting.

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