Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Municipality of Freetown, Sierra Leone and UNCDF Launch Sustainable Water, Sanitation Hygiene Initiative

  • December 01, 2020

  • Freetown, Sierra Leone


Partnership Aims to Demonstrate Approach to Delivering Sustainable Access to Water that Can be Scaled and Replicated Across All Least-Developed Countries

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); the Municipality of Freetown, Sierra Leone; and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today announce the launch of the Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative. The vision of the initiative is to construct reliable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) as an extension of delivering safe, affordable, sustainable water to the residents of Freetown; while at the same time demonstrating a successful model for financing sustainable water production and consumption in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).

Freetown/Blue Peace brings together two ambitious campaigns intended to advance sustainable development. One is the Transform Freetown Agenda, which was launched and is currently managed by the Municipality of Freetown under the leadership of Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, to address the city’s needs regarding socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities. The other campaign is the Blue Peace Finance Initiative, co-created by SDC and UNCDF, which seeks to introduce innovative financing of transboundary and multi-sectoral water cooperation to support circular economies as well as promote peace and stability.

The Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative aims to deliver access to safe, affordable sustainable water. The Blue Peace Finance initiative will specifically contribute to the achievement of two signature, data-driven goals under the Transform Freetown process: access to affordable and sustainable water for 75% of the Freetown population; and the safe collection, management and disposal of 60% of solid and liquid waste. Under the leadership of Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, and with the support of SDC and UNCDF, the partners will collaborate on achieving sustainable access to water that will advance the city’s overall resilience, particularly by developing Freetown’s green circular economy.

Through Freetown/Blue Peace, the partners are also looking to demonstrate an approach to ensuring the sustainable production and consumption of water in the world’s least developed countries. By demonstrating the power of water investments as a catalyst for the sustainable production and consumption of water in all its uses, the Freetown/Blue Peace initiative is looking to spur future water-related projects in Sierra Leone and throughout the LDCs. Success in Freetown will lay the foundation for the Freetown City Council to work with the central government on scaling the Freetown/Blue Peace initiative at a national level.

“We are proud to advance our WASH projects under the partnership with SDC and UNCDF through Blue Peace,” said Mayor Aki-Sawyerr. “The success of the Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative can help Freetown meet its potential to be one of the most beautiful, green and healthy cities in Africa.”

“Our vision for the Blue Peace initiative has always been that water cooperation among borders, sectors and generations can foster peace, stability and sustainable development,” said Simon Zbinden, Head of the Global Programme Water of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). “The Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative represents precisely this cooperation; seamlessly uniting actors from the international, national and local levels.”

“As the UN organisation that makes finance work for the poor and supporting SDG achievements in the least developed countries, leveraging innovative public and private financing to support sustainable access to water and sanitation through the Blue Peace initiative is a natural extension of UNCDF’s mission” David Jackson, Director of Local Development Finance Practice at UNCDF.

“The Freetown/Blue Peace Initiative will prove that sustainable access to water can be innovatively financed, partnership-supported, and locally-led.”

The initiative will centre around the partners working jointly within the framework of Freetown’s public piped water system. This includes close coordination with the Guma Valley Water Company to install water kiosks that would expand access to clean water, as well as the installation of public toilets to assist in the removal of liquid and solid waste. Besides dramatically improving the state of public health of residents, these installations will help Freetown develop its green circular economy. The water and public toilet installation projects, as well as the removal projects around water and removal of liquid waste, will generate jobs, notably in the private sector.

The Freetown/Blue Peace initiative will also support the enhancement of the urban space, lending to the rehabilitation and modernization of market space for greater market activity and commerce. The support of market space will be integral to the way water is managed within the city’s food value chain, commerce, women empowerment and public health in general.

Finally, expanding access to clean water at this particular point in time and into the future is essential to confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to clean water and proper toilets through newly constructed WASH facilities will strengthen and expand the availability of handwashing facilities and the promotion of sound hygiene practices, which are essential to confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.