Media CenterSierra Leone Launches Western Area Peninsula Water Fund to Protect and Improve Water Resources in Greater Freetown

Photo by Karen Kasmauski for CRS

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Nanette Gendry
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]

Evelyne W. Karanja
The Nature Conservancy
[email protected]

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, Feb. 2, 2024 – Last week, the government of Sierra Leone launched the Western Area Peninsula Water Fund (WAPWF), with a $2 million initial investment into a $20 million initiative to ensure a healthy watershed for Greater Freetown and a reliable supply of clean water for all upstream and downstream users. The project is a partnership between Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), in cooperation with various local and national partners. 

Water funds are organizations that work together to create and improve ways to protect water resources. They bring together people from different sectors such as government, businesses and communities to work toward a common goal of ensuring water security by using nature-based solutions and sustainable watershed management practices. These practices help to ensure that water resources are protected and managed in a way that is good for the environment and the people who depend on them.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Sierra Leone’s vice president, said, “This launch is a historic moment for Sierra Leone, as a government we are committed not just through financing but also the political will to deliver results. Over the years, as a government it is our priority to provide reliable supply of clean water for the well-being of all citizens.”

The Western Area Peninsula Forest National Park is one of eight biodiversity hot spots in the country and hosts 80 – 90% of Sierra Leone’s terrestrial biodiversity. The Water Fund will be managed within the National Water Resources Management Agency of the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation. The Water Fund will help secure water, protect people’s livelihoods, tackle climate change and conserve natural habitats and water towers.

“Water security is foundational to humanitarian and development programs and highlights our ambition to create change at scale and assist the region’s poorest and most marginalized communities,” said Jennifer Overton, CRS’ Regional Director for West Africa. “This program will restore the Western Area Peninsula National Park, safeguard the delicate balance of nature, and secure the future of Freetown’s water supply.”

Ademola Ajagbe, TNC’s Africa Regional Managing Director, added, “The Nature Conservancy is committed in supporting the people of Sierra Leone. The WAPWF is the first water fund in West Africa. The innovative and collaborative approach of this water fund unites various sectors for a common goal – to meet the critical need for water security for all.” The Nature Conservancy launched Africa’s first water fund in Nairobi in 2015 and has since expanded the approach to 17 locations across Africa.

Research shows that this initiative will play a vital role in ensuring water quality and quantity in Greater Freetown, while also delivering economic and social benefits to the community. Serving Greater Freetown, the Water Fund is projected to generate approximately $55 million in economic and social benefits over a 30-year period, with a $20 million investment allocated to protect and restore critical ecological infrastructure. This means every dollar invested by the fund is expected to generate at least $2.70 in benefits for the community.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories – 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners – we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_africa on Twitter.


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Jennifer Hardy

Associate Director, Global Communications

Jennifer Hardy
February 1, 2024

Based in Boston, Massachusetts

Jennifer Hardy is Catholic Relief Services’ Associate Director for Global Communications. She previously filled the role of Regional Communications Officer for Asia, where she worked as the point person for media, actively connecting journalists with engaging stories about CRS’ work throughout Asia. Jen traveled extensively throughout...More