The Challenge of Change: Kickstarting WASH Education in Sierra Leone


The Government Technical Institute (GTI) in Sierra Leone recognises that long term development is the best form of disaster risk reduction, and good governance and strong institutions represents the best form of disaster preparedness.

Sierra Leone has faced a difficult and turbulent recent history. Since the civil war ended in 2002, it has had nearly two decades of stability to rebuild its governance systems - the networks of people, institutions, infrastructure and finance. However, its development efforts are often still punctuated by crisis, which have long lasting impacts. The 2014 west African Ebola outbreak and the 2017 mudslides near Freetown are two prominent examples. These disasters or crises occur alongside other economic, demographic and climate pressures.

WASH systems
It is against this background that it becomes essential to strengthen systems for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This is required to ensure services are delivered professionally and they remain permanent and lasting. Building institutional capability at national and local levels is one important component of this work. Attracting more young professionals into the WASH sector and providing ongoing training and education is absolutely crucial if institutions are to have greater capacity to perform essential functions routinely.

GTI, supported by Maastricht School of Management and Nuffic funding, is undertaking important work to develop a foundational WASH curriculum. It is currently developing a series of seven WASH modules that will provide an opportunity to promote learning and education in Freetown. GTIs aim is to offer a series of short courses for aspiring practitioners and interested professionals.

About the WASH course
After the programme’s inception phase and study tour, GTI and their partners have commenced designing a WASH curriculum to be launched at the end of 2021. The modules will cover the following themes:

  • WASH: Context and Environment in Sierra Leone
  • Systems thinking for WASH
  • Urban Water Supply
  • Urban Sanitation and Solid Waste Management
  • Monitoring and Evaluation for WASH
  • Gender and Social Inclusion
  • Small Business Management

Study tour
The curriculum design has been directly informed by a study tour to the Netherlands in December 2019, where a visit to Maastricht and Brabant Water in Eindhoven was conducted. Representatives from GTI were able to see first-hand the impressive training facilities that have been established by Brabant Water and their partners Koning Willem I College. This approach ensures students develop both thinker and practitioner skills and are well equipped to work to the highest professional standards.

Countries like Sierra Leone need to provide new opportunities for young professionals that want to work on water and sanitation matters. At the very least there need to be facilities for both theoretical and practical training so institutions and water utilities can attract new staff. Indeed, the seriousness with which nations try to improve institutional capacity is one indicator of their desire to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the target year of 2030.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

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