Pollution and Sanitation Problems as Setbacks to Sustainable Water Resources Management in Freetown

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The civil conflict in Sierra Leone (19912001) caused a dramatic increase in the population of Freetown. This population increase overstretched housing facilities, leading to the creation of camps and many squatter settlements with poor sanitation practices. Overcrowding has become a serious concern in light of the acute water shortage that struck Freetown in May and June 2006. Some of the numerous small water bodies that could have been used to augment the public water supply were contaminated by the disposal of solid and industrial waste and poor sewage management. Improper disposal practices have a direct impact on public health.

This paper recommends addressing the policy gap, establishing clear threshold criteria for all water bodies and wastewater discharge, and integrating the above issues in the ongoing review process of draft water sanitation policy. Public education of the negative consequences of poor waste management practices on water quality and public health can also positively affect general sanitation practices.

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