Sierra Leone opens first wastewater treatment plant with help from Ireland

Irish water services sector personnel support Goal in providing facility in Freetown

Sierra Leone's first wastewater treatment plant has been built in its capital city Freetown with the help of a team from the Irish water services sector and the humanitarian aid agency Goal.

The plant is the first stage in improving sanitation for more than 1 million people in the Sierra Leonean capital.

Water-Share Ireland, a collaboration between Goal and the Irish water services sector, contributed technical expertise to the project. In addition, remote oversight of the civil and mechanical/electrical works was provided by wastewater treatment experts in Ireland including the EPA.

The plant, which took two years to complete, will be handed over to Freetown City Council, a joint partner in the project. It was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.


It will allow for mechanised faecal sludge treatment and safe disposal of liquid waste at Kingtom, a 43-acre site where approximately 5,000 people live. The sludge arises from latrines used across the city.

Jerry Grant of Water-Share Ireland said "it was a privilege to engage colleagues across the Irish water sector to provide technical help and support to Goal and Freetown City Council to realise this landmark project".

“Having visited the site, and met with the Goal team and the Mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, a number of industry colleagues volunteered generously of their time and expertise. We look forward to continuing to help with capacity building for the sustainable operation of the facility,” he added.

The mayor said the facility will contribute greatly to the ambitious Transform Freetown target that by 2022, 60 per cent of the city’s solid and liquid waste will be collected safely. “The new infrastructure and systems now in place will enable us to move towards stopping a major sanitation and environmental crisis. This is a clear demonstration of what collaborations and partnerships can achieve,” she added.

Goal's Sierra Leone country director Gashaw Mekonnen said completion of the plant "will accelerate our efforts to tackle the sanitation challenges in Freetown, and to sustainably build on the gains made from this project".

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times