1588 Inhabitants To One Hand Pump In Kamatahun Town
By Paul M. Kanneh |Freelancer |Paulkannh5@gmail.com |
About 1588 residents in Kamatahun Town are facing serious drinking water shortage. Kamatahun is a town located in lower Lofa-near the border of Sierra Leone. Like several rural settlements, residents of Kamatahun are living at the Mercy of God and what they believe is “such a time such a circumstance. Recent visit (March 8, 2021) to the town witnessed scores of citizens, mainly young women struggling to fetch drinking for household use.
The only hand pump that supplies the town seems inadequate for the over 1588 people, some of whom expressed frustration over the inadequacy of pure and safe drinking water. Hawa lives near the hand pump. She laments that the situation is embarrassing for such a big town with large population to depend on one hand pump for drinking water.
“We suffer a lot! You see now the pump is locked. At this time of the day, if you want to get drinking water, you have to go to the stream”. Hawa, a neighbor to the hand pump explains. Hawa believes that it is one thing to have a hand pump that keeps water year round amid large population, and is another thing to have a single hand pump that constantly runs out of water during the dry season amid large population. “We could at least understand if the one hand pump was keeping water all the time. Even though it will not serve everyone at that the same time, but there could always be water to drink. But the pump is single and always runs out of water in the dry season as you can see it has been closed since today”, Hawa narrates further.
Another resident who stood by to watch the interview with Hawa said, the complexity of having a single hand pump that often runs out of water has compelled most residents of Kamatahun to resort to fetching water from streams lying underneath the town.
“You see down there in the valley, that is the place we can get water from to drink and cook our foods”, Ma Kanneh explains as she looks down the valley to ensure her six years old daughter who had gone for water was saved as she climbs the steep valley located behind their house.
Although it is now a normal thing for the people of Kamatahun to drink from streams due to shortage of safe drinking water, an assigned health worker at the town’s clinic, Moses termed the shortage of safe drinking water as troubling health wise for the over 1588 residents.
“This town is too big to have one hand pump to serve 1588 people; a diarrhea outbreak could be catastrophic and uncontrollable for the already challenged health workers at the clinic”, Moses predicts diarrhea and other form of water borne diseases if care is not taken to remedy the situation of drinking water shortage in Kamatahun.
According to Moses, recent household survey conducted in January 2021 by Community Health Volunteers (CHV) established that Kamatahun has a total population of 1588-from zero month old to 50 years. When asked whether it was feasible for the people of the town to fetch water from the clinic’s hand pump, Moses said the management of the clinic sometimes allows outsiders to fetch water, but often do this with the best of caution to avoid the clinic running out of water which could put patients at risk.
“By the time we realized more people are coming in the compound to draw water, we take the hard decision to shut it down before we lose the only water facility at the clinic”, Moses said as he flips through the CHV’s roster.
What makes matter worst for the people of Kamatahun is, the streams they drink from are hosts for dirt/debris washed away by erosion. The streams are located underneath valleys containing large volume of garbage dumped by residents. Although none was observed, but the odor around the out sketch of the town leaves one to conclude that the valley is also used for open defecation, which makes the situation compound complex for the people of Kamatahun.