In June 2019, EFA signed an partnership agreement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to implement a one year project titled:
“Improving Water Security and Risk Reduction in Freetown and the Western Area Peninsula”. This project began in earnest in July 2019 and seeks to improve water access through providing technical support to community-based conservation efforts to catalyze watershed protection in 21 communities situated in, one urban Catchment Area (Tower Hill,) and one rural Catchment Area (Sussex).
Specifically, EFA is providing technical assistance to the targeted communities by overseeing:
1. Reforestation of the upper catchments of the targeted areas, to reduce flood water run-off and slow the flow of water into the main natural channels and smaller tributaries. This entailed initially procuring, distributing and supervising the planting of 4500 fast-growing tree seedlings, including Acacia to all of the 21 communities in the Tower Hill and Sussex Catchments during July-September 2019.
From November 2019 – June 2020, EFA will work with various communities and institutions within the catchment to nurse up to 20,000 tree seedlings, including a selection of indigenous trees as well as a number of exotic species. The nursing period for these plant species is between 4 to 6 months, and transplanting of seedlings will occur between June-August 2020, which would mainly be concentrated in the Tower Hill and Sussex catchments.
This will be achieved by protecting the watershed through nature-based solutions and reducing flood risks affecting decentralized water points such as shallow wells, protected springs and boreholes. Additionally, the project will support enhanced water services by addressing flaws in access, continuity of supply and water quality and address critical long-term water governance issues through exploring the feasibility of the establishment of Freetown Peninsula Water Fund (PPP mechanism) designed to sustainably address threats to water supply in the Western Area.
2. Assessment at catchment level in Tower Hill and Sussex to inform the development of a strategy for floodplain restoration, based on the local context. Research has indicated that woodland creation is an effective strategy to manage flood risk; however, such restorative measures have to be tailored to the needs of the community and appropriate material selection and natural engineering planning is required. This is even more relevant in more heavily urbanized waterways, such as in Freetown.
3. Developing information, education and communication (IEC) materials to increase / enhance the effectiveness of ongoing advocacy and environmental awareness raising, focusing on the various stakeholder groups in the target catchment areas. The IEC materials to be developed will be informed largely, by findings from the initial baseline assessments of the communities in the catchments as the crucial first step of this project. Materials will include posters, stickers, leaflets, jingles, billboards, videos, radio/TV adverts, and other materials as appropriate. Given the historical effectiveness of conveying critical messages through radio and visual arts media, it is foreseen that local artists will be hired to develop artistic impressions of key messages (through voice and creative visual arts) to develop public messaging for wide dissemination at the catchment area levels and ultimately at the capital city and national levels.