By Tabora Bojang
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has revealed that out of the 84.8 percent Gambian households that have access to basic drinking water sources, only 33.8 percent are using safely managed drinking water sources.
“It is therefore now more than ever that we need to transform the way we manage our water resources to deliver water and sanitation services that are reliable and accessible for all Gambians,” Pura director general, Yusupha Jobe told stakeholders at a validation of water and sewage service regulations at Metzy yesterday.
The Authority is developing this new regulation [water and sewage service regulations] to improve and transform water and sanitation services in the country.
According to DG Jobe, a sound legal framework is one of the key instruments needed to transform the sector since the 1979 National Water Resources Council Act is outdated and barely adequate to address the dynamic challenges in the water and sanitation sector.
“It is our strategic goal to improve the regulatory framework by coming up with this regulation and to develop all required guidelines and standards for its implementation. As you may know our water services are predominantly delivered by Nawec, we believe the regulations will not only improve their performance but also promote competition through private sector licensing to break the monopolistic utility model,” the Pura DG added.
He warned that the existing water stress is likely to continue with ‘severe implications’ if necessary steps and actions are not taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, uncontrolled urbanisation and increased demand for water supply.
Dembo Fatty, the deputy program manager for the Gambia Climate Smart Rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Development Project under the Ministry of Health said the validation of this regulatory document could not have come at a better time when the country is faced with huge challenges to improve water quality.
Quoting the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, Fatty said the quality of water in the country especially at the consumption level is ‘really compromised’ with 43 percent of all water sources consumed at the household level contaminated, while only 47 percent of the population have access to basic sanitation services.
He said these indicators have posed concerns over the full realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 on hygiene and sanitation as he called on stakeholders to critically look into the document and come up with ‘action-oriented interventions’ to realise these global targets.