IMC Travel Diaries – Working to improve the water network in Freetown

Welcome to IMC Travel Diaries, where we explore new places and development issues. Our consultants will take us on a journey with them for a day, so we can discover what it is really like to work in international development.

Monday 01 July 2019, Private: Hanna Bakhash

Hanna Bakhash is a consultant in the WASH Engineering team. He takes us around Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he is working on the rehabilitation of the water supply system for the benefit of over 600,000 people.

IMC Worldwide is working on behalf of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) to rehabilitate the city’s water supply system. As a result of high levels of leakage across the distribution system as well as the significant supply-demand deficit, water availability and supply pressures decrease significantly throughout the supply network. Being at the extremity of the network, the densely populated eastern part of Freetown suffers the most, with very little water reaching the area, forcing around 600,000 people to seek informal sources of water, which increases health hazards and the risk of disease.


From my hotel room, I can hear a crane-bird screaming in the yard. I think it wants me to head to breakfast so I can spare some bread. Here, I always start my breakfast with a plate of fresh fruit, in Freetown fruits come right from the trees to the table. I also ask Chef Samira to make her excellent scrambled eggs. Plate of fruits, three eggs, and freshly brewed coffee… and I’m all set for the day.


Street art in Freetown, Sierra Leone

I love the morning commute. I get to ride in a vintage land cruiser with the company’s driver Bokary, who enjoys roots reggae. During the many rides I was introduced to many great African artists including the Rastafarian Lucky Dube who inspired anti-corruption graffiti all over the capital walls.


I am at the office working on my laptop, I like to spend the beginning of each working day in the balcony, it’s very hot outside but I can’t resist the view. I arrange my day and catch up on the most important issues whilst my brain is still fresh.


We hit the road again as I have to accompany our Contractor Bam and our Designer Atkins to a site visit to GVWC Water Treatment Plant. The three of us take a local sub-contractor on a tour in the treatment plant as they will rehabilitate the electrical connections including the Chlorine system connection, meant to disinfect drinking water supplies, which currently is in need of rehabilitation.

We also use a measuring wheel to estimate the distances needed for all electrical cables for the plant, the aim is to connect each equipment with its specific control panel. The distances are critical for the sub-contractor to provide an accurate quotation.


Just before heading back to town, I run into John, a palm fruit gatherer, he is happy to share some of his palms with us to snack on while driving back to town. John’s palms were super delicious and nutritious. You can see him on top of the tree.


I ask Bokary to drive me to AVY TV channel studio where I have the pleasure to attend the awards ceremony for the  “Freetown Cleanest Zone Competition”. The city council had organised this  creative community-based challenge to keep the city clean and neat. IMC Worldwide contributed to this initiative, partly funded through the annual IMC Charity Fund scheme. 300 zones competed against each other for six months and were scored using a fixed set of indicators, including cleanliness, hygiene and beautification.

I can clearly see a tangible transformation in Solid Waste Management in this beautiful city. I congratulated Madam Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr (pictured below) for presenting the awards, and I express my appreciation to Freetown City Council for making this possible. I was so happy to see the that every Freetownian is making an effort to keep their city clean and pretty.

The next day, I am ready to go back to office for a new adventure… but not before enjoying reggae music and beautiful drive on Lumly beach.

All story photos by Hanna Bakhash, IMC Worldwide.
Cover Photo, Ben Walker, IMC Worldwide


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