At the very least we should come up with a sound plan geared towards the drastic curtailment, if not the containment of water shortage. As readers will recall, we used to have fresh water up to Balingno on the River Gambia. Now, where is the fresh water?
As I saw it then and as I see it now, the answer lies in two main n approaches, namely: technical and administrative management . We should have more trained manpower in our water supplyly system. These should include technicians who dig or rehabilitate wells satisfactorily, tend competently to boreholes, etc. At the present, not enough of such skilled men are available. Thus, training should be a priority for those technicians already in the system. The insufficient numbers of assistants in the critical areas of the system cannot be over-emphasised. The UN system as well as the NGO community would only be too willing to assist in this regard.
More complex, however is the administration/management approach. In my view, it is wrong in the first place for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the apex of the system, to be lumbered with, as it were, so many responsibilities that it seems to be acting perforce the part of judge, jury and the prosecutor rolled in one.
Nonetheless, a lot of adjustments still remain to be made. For example, the supervisory role played over well construction and boreholes needs to be revisited. Since the order of the day is decentralisation, the authorities, namely, the six area councils and the two municipalities of Banjul and Kanifing, should take full charge of wells and boreholes in their areas of jurisdiction. Inter alia, they should have their own. This would, of course, again mean that they should also have trained manpower to handle this. DWR would then only rightfully play the role of adviser and coordinator to the local authorities.
As adviser, DWR, acting on the feedback from its divisional inspectors, will be in much better position to take an overview of the well-digging and borehole activities going on throughout The Gambia and as coordinator, DWR will be in position to collect data and produce an annual report on vital informations on the nation’s water supply. We would then, for example, be in a position to know for sure how much water has been extracted from our ground and what the statistics are in various areas of The Gambia.
Above all, the Agriculture Department, in particular will get a tremendous boost. Instead of the ‘ribbon development’ going on, we shall soon have a systematically planned development based on concrete information supplied by local authorities via DWR to the Agricultural Department.
Besides, it is common knowledge that wells and boreholes are dug and sunk respectively without the knowledge of DWR, and for that matter, without the knowledge of our local authorities. Equally true, quite a number of wells and boreholes and cattle troughs are in a bad state of repair, if not downright unusable today, for lack of technical know-how or neglect of maintenance or both. Such an unsatisfactory and dysfunctional state of affairs will, with the implementation of my suggestion, thus die a natural death. A stitch in time saves nine says the sage.
Ebou C Faal
56 Mosque Road, Latrikunda]]>