The construction of three megawatt hydro power project has commenced in Sierra Leone’s Bankasoka river.
The rural communities of Sierra Leone will benefit from United Nations-supported hydro power plant and will also benefit from improved irrigation, water and sanitation services and increased businesses opportunities.
The hydro power plant is funded by the Government of China and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
UNIDO is a UN agency which promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
UNIDO asserts that the hydro plant is located within the community which means a direct involvement in the project by locals and lower costs.
“Small and micro hydro plant in rural areas of Sierra Leone will help improve access to modern energy services, boost market activities and irrigation.” -UNIDO’s Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella
Mr Yumkella also accompanied Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma, during the laying of the plant’s foundation stone.
Mr. Yumkella said UNIDO is currently working on a feasibility study for a 10 megawatt hydro power project in the country to be funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) worth $32 million.
The GEF is an independent financial organization which provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to issues such as biodiversity, climate change and land degradation.
The head of UNIDO noted that increasing access to modern energy services is vital for creating social and economic opportunities that should improve the lives of the world’s poorest.
According to the UN;
UN reports an estimated 1.5 billion people still do not have access to electricity, and around 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass and coal as their primary source of energy.
On November 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called for greater support of efforts to provide 600 million people in Africa with affordable and sustainable energy to enable the continent accelerate social and economic development.
Mr. Ban asserts that ensuring access to reliable, efficient and affordable energy is a key element in advancing industrial development, creating decent jobs and increasing productive capacity, especially for small and medium enterprises and rural populations.
Poverty is endemic in Sierra Leone, which was ranked 176 out of 177 countries listed in the UN’s Human Development Index. Infant mortality is estimated at 158 per 1,000 live births, under-five mortality rate at 267 per 1,000 and maternal mortality rate at 1,077 per 100,000 live births – all among the highest rates