Smaller settlements lack access to basic public services such as electricity and improved water and sanitation compared with other countries in Sub- Saharan Africa and other low-income countries.
Sierra Leone lags significantly in providing electricity and basic sanitation services to its urban and rural populations, according to the World Bank. Households in towns of less than 10,000 people and poorer households remain far behind in terms of access to electricity, access to an improved water source, and access to an improved toilet.
The 2022 Sierra Leone Poverty Assessment report stated that delivery of key expenditures on utility utilities-electricity, water and sanitation-are low by international standards and confined mostly to urban areas. Access to electricity at 23 per cent is half that for sub-Saharan Africa (47 per cent) and substantially below that for low-income countries (41 per cent).
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Only about a third of households in Sierra Leone pay for any utilities. In the top quintile, 45 per cent of households pay for water and 52 per cent pay for electricity, compared with only 6 per cent and 2 per cent in the bottom quintile, respectively. Among households that pay for utilities, median spending represents 1-4 per cent of total expenditure. Richer households and households in urban areas spend a larger share of their total expenditure on utilities than other households.
Access to the national electric grid-the Electricity Supply and Distribution Authority (EDSA) is limited mainly to a handful of major cities, including Freetown and its surrounding areas, Bo, Makeni, Kenema, and the Lungi area.
Electricity is also available in the town hosting the hydropower plant (Bumbuna)and some smaller towns along main roads (Lunsar because the grid is new in Yele, Blama). It is available only on a limited basis in Waterloo and for kids.
Not all households located in places where EDSA operates have a connection, About 80 per cent of households in towns with more than 10,000 people have a connection to their dwelling
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This is in part because the grid is new in these places and the process of getting a connection and meter can be time-consuming and expensive Even among the top quintile of households, just over half use EDSA as their main power source.
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