Freetown Water Supply & Sanitation Masterplan, Sierra Leone
In Freetown, water pollution is a major problem and over 60% of the population lack access to clean water and sanitation. Aged infrastructure also results in huge water losses in the supply system.


The challenge was to design a comprehensive blueprint for Water Supply and Sanitation that resonated with the Greater Freetown area.


In collaboration with lead consultant COBA, SMEC was appointed to deliver a Water and Sanitation Masterplan following an Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) approach to meet the escalating services needs of the city which is increasingly burdened by the impacts of climate change. The IUWM approach integrated water supply, sanitation, stormwater and wastewater management with land use planning and economic development.


Objectives for the project were to establish a framework to upgrade, rehabilitate and expand the water supply network to reach un-serviced households. The programme also included the design for the rehabilitation of water treatment plants, the installation of sanitation facilities in public areas and raising awareness about the importance of sanitation.



SMEC and COBA were responsible for providing engineering and environmental expertise for the masterplan. Our dedicated team comprised experts in sanitation, water resources management, stormwater drainage, hydrology, GIS, community engagement and financial analysis and funding models.


Institutionalising the IUWM approach was embedded into the master plan strategy and ensured that the right role players and stakeholders were identified and capacitated to implement the water and sanitation and drainage infrastructure planned and designed. Key milestones included:

  • Undertaking comprehensive stakeholder mapping and engagement to build inclusive collaboration.
  • Meticulous infrastructure mapping to ascertain the location of existing assets.
  • A gap analysis, to gather information used to develop policies, programs, and future infrastructure projects. By analysing various scenarios for projected demand. SMEC formulated strategic pathways, fostering environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
  • The development of environmental impact assessments.
  • City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) rapid assessment.
  • The identification of key training of local staff on water supply and sanitation, including the establishment of governance and technical committees to oversee implementation of the masterplan.



The Freetown Water Supply & Sanitation Masterplan was a complex and ambitious project, but its current and future implementation has the potential to make a major difference to people’s lives and livelihoods and improve the overall health of the community.


The masterplan report was adopted by the Government of Sierra Leone for implementation in 2022. Since endorsement of the masterplan over USD 150 million in funding has been pledged for immediate and short-term projects with a further USD 2 billion of investment projects, procurement ready.


The masterplan design has been used as the blueprint for various planned infrastructure projects including the Freetown WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and Aquatic Environment Revamping project aimed at improving water supply access in the Western Area.


These projects are poised to transform the lives of approximately 1.5 million individuals, endowing them with improved water and sanitation services for a better and healthier life for all.


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Talk to one of our specialists about our role on the Freetown Water Supply & Sanitation Masterplan, Sierra Leone project.