WB’s phased out water response project affects beneficiaries

Mamos Media

By Cherno Omar Bobb

The World Bank (WB) and the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) water project that came on the heels of Covid-19 recently phased out and since then the women of Tabokoto within the Kanifing Municipality have been battling with water shortage

The WB funded project aims to opportune beneficiaries to have uninterrupted water supply that they can use to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Tabokoto women often woke up late at night when everyone is in bed except criminals just to beg water from neighbors for domestic usage. They also buy drinkable from neighbors.

The women say they fear for their lives having to wake up and fetch water at that time of the night but they had to sacrifice because if they did not they and their families will not drink clean water.

Our bodies use water in all the cells, organs, and tissues, to help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because our bodies lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s crucial to rehydrate and replace water by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.

Fatou Bah, a native of Tabokoto said, “even though I am sick I have to wake up in the middle of the night every day to fetch clean drinking water from my neighbors because at our area taps only open late hours of the night.”

She added that since the water tank that was stationed at their area was taken away they have been struggling with water supply. She therefore appealed to the authorities to find means to address their situation, saying sometimes they will want to cook and do other domestic work but will not be able to due to lack of water.

Abisatou Conteh, also a native of Tabokoto said the water tank made life easy for them but since it was taken away they have been suffering with water shortage.

“The entire area used to fetch water from the tank. The day the water it was taken away most of us cried knowing the hardship we will encounter again,” she said.

 “Water supply has always been our challenge and mostly we buy clean drinking water while others allow us to fetch cooking, bathing and laundry water from their wells,” she further explained, adding that when they fetch their gallons they leave them there until in the morning for their children to go and collect them.

“Sometimes neighbors let us fetch clean drinking water for free but in most cases we buy,” she also said.

She noted that most criminal activities take place at night in the country and taps opening at night is a danger to women, saying they fear for their lives waking up in the middle of the night every day to fetch clean drinking water.

Binta Sanneh, also a native of Tabokoto appealed to the authorities to find means to address their constrains, saying the hardship they are experiencing is beyond imagination. She added that they were not even briefed prior to the water tank being taken away.

Nyima Badjie, also a native of Tabokoto said they only have a few taps within the area and bringing back the water tank will really make live easy for them.

“No matter what you have in this world without water life is worthless,” he stated while calling for bailout from the authorities.

During a recent press conference held at NAWEC to announce the end of the project, Hawa Jallow, Communications Officer for NAWEC said the Covid-19 water tanks set up with World Bank assistance were no longer sustainable.

According to her, the WB declared that they can no longer continue to fund the project which was implemented by NAWEC. She added that NAWEC on the other hand does not have the financial muscle to continue the project and would therefore decommissioned the tanks on Friday 15 October 2021.

Tamsir Sawaneh, a representative of the Water Business Unit at NAWEC, revealed that a task force dubbed ‘Covid- 19 NAWEC Water Response’ was established on 18 March 2020 on the instructions of the then Managing Director to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

He added that the objective of the task force was to intervene in areas with the NAWEC network where there was acute water supply.

According to him, most of the areas that NAWEC installed the tanks were areas that were not having sufficient water supply.

“We are aware that people have access to water problems but we would like to inform the public that the end of this project is beyond us as a company because the World Bank can no longer fund the project,” he explained.

He further said that: “We would never shy away from saying that we failed the customers because we cannot give them water as much as they want but we are working tirelessly to positively improve the situation and investigations are going on to make sure the water problem is solved,” he continued.

In urban areas of The Gambia, about 69 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water. 

Further, the quality of services is weak due to frequent service outages, with some neighbourhoods not receiving water for days, weeks or even months at a time. 

Customers still face erratic supply of water and electricity, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This support will build on the ongoing efforts of the government to strengthen the electricity and water sectors, and further boost the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic through communications and targeted investments including hand washing facilities in the Greater Banjul Area,” said Elene Imnadze, World Bank Resident Representative at the time.

About 20,000 water meters were installed or replaced; and three water storage tanks repaired.

The first case of Covid-19 was reported on December 31, 2020 and the source of the outbreak linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China).

The Gambia’s Ministry of Health confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus on Tuesday March 17, 2020.

As of 31st October 2021, The Gambia had officially registered 9, 965 Coronavirus cases, 340 deaths and 9, 611 recoveries.

COB/DAJ/4/11/21

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