At a ceremony on 25 August, 2015, villagers of Marokie village, Malal Mara Chiefdom in Northern Sierra Leone have praised Addax Bioenergy (SL) Ltd for continuing its corporate social responsibility even at the height of the now-stalled Ebola crisis. They were speaking at a ceremony to hand over the last borehole commissioned under the company’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme. Under the programme, Addax Bioenergy has constructed 20 new boreholes and eight Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines in 23 villages.
Speaker after speaker lauded the company and extolled its virtues. In an emotional rendition of thanks, the Chiefdom Chair Lady, Ms. Kadiatu Kamara, expressed her gratitude for all the anti-Ebola measures the company had implemented including provision of essential water supplies.
“At a time when Ebola surrounded us in the villages, Addax Bioenergy’s interventions saved many lives. For what you have done to protect your staff and communities, we owe you our deepest gratitude”. Ms. Kamara said.
She described how she had seen with our own eyes the work carried out by company staff in the most difficult situations and today’s ceremony was yet another example of the company’s commitment. She pointed out how the new well located in the remote village is safer and more convenient than the former water source. It will provide water all year round, so the people no longer have to search further away for water during the dry season. She pledged the chiefdom would do what was needed to support and protect the company.
Earlier, in his opening statement, the Chiefdom Speaker, Mr PA Mustapha Jalloh, expressed his sincere gratitude for the company’s extensive support towards the communities. “Water is life, and a properly constructed well like this will have a positive impact on the health of the community and become a foundation stone for further development. It is highly valued by the community members.” He told community members that “if you look after your new asset, your children will be healthier and spend less time fetching water and the result will be more time spent in school.”
Addax Bioenergy’s Acting General Manager, Mr. Bheki Chatira, explained that the company’s WASH programme was an integral part of the many preventive measures the company has taken since the start of the Ebola outbreak in May 2014. These have included education and training measures, the construction of an Ebola Isolation Unit on site, as well as the installation of hand wash stations and temperature screening across its estate. The Company also built a 100-bed Ebola Treatment Centre and an Ebola Isolation Unit in Makeni, and donated protective equipment, vehicles and other equipment to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. He also thanked the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) who had supported the company’s Ebola measures.
He underlined that Addax Bioenergy was one of the few private sector companies that did not abandon its operations during the Ebola outbreak. At the same time, a number of unforeseeable events had a significant impact on the project, and were compounded by the devastating Ebola crisis over the last 15 months.
The company’s Community Service and Development Manager, Mr. Love Hammond, added that to make the programme sustainable, community WASH committees have been formed, while training in water management and borehole maintenance is ongoing. He thanked partners World Hope International and PACT, who had assisted in the implementation of the WASH programme.
In his vote of thanks, the Chief Health Officer from Tonkolili District, Mr. Aiah Jimmy, stated that the “Addax Bioenergy WASH programme will support clean and safe water for around 11, 000 people averaging around 400 people per well. High quality wells also produce safe drinking water for decades if the pumps are maintained.” He strongly encouraged community members to manage their wells properly, including the collection of funds from users to finance future repairs.
Representing civil society, Lansana Hassan Sowa from SiLNoRF, said that all stakeholders needed to work closely with Addax Bioenergy and actively support the company during this critical time. Addax Bioenergy was a very important project for the development of Sierra Leone, for job creation and for community development. He urged community members to assist in protecting the company’s assets as sabotage and theft would also destroy key community development projects, such as the Farmer Development Services. He also expressed his deep appreciation for all the company’s efforts to both protect and support communities and the country during the Ebola crisis.
The event ended on a very high note of enthusiasm displayed by all attendees.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.