End Water Poverty's member The Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network in partnership with WaterAid has launched Civil Society Water Action Month in the Slum Community of Clara Town in Monrovia.
It was launched Thursday, March 10, 1016 under the theme: “End Water Shortage and Governance Challenges Now”. Clara Town is one of several communities in Monrovia with water and sanitation crisis. The launch of Water Action Month is part of series of activities in commemoration of World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22. The day was set aside by the United Nations to highlight the plight many are encountering in the world and to find solutions to water crisis faced by millions.
Speaking at the launch on behalf of Government, the Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), Hun Bun Tulay called on WASH CSOs to also get engaged in educating the citizenry on the maintenance of WASH facilities. Mr. Tulay urged the Liberia CSOs WASH Network not to only lead advocacy, but get involved in educating beneficiaries about taking ownership of WASH facilities as well. According to him, maintenance of WASH facilities has become a major challenge in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of the country.
Mr. Tulay indicated that advocacy by the Civil Society is an excellent way of reminding government about its duties and responsibilities to the citizenry, adding what is of more importance for the sector is maintenance. He said due to poor maintenance, several WASH facilities have broken down because of spare parts that can be easily bought by the community for reasonable prices. The LWSC Managing Director said government will ensure that these facilities will be provided, adding that Citizens must also play a pivotal role in keeping them functioning. He said when citizens maintain WASH facilities it will always be available for them and would also assist government in providing WASH services. Mr. Tulay further called on the CSOs WASH Network to carry the message of protection and maintenance of facilities to communities benefiting from WASH services.
Also marking remarks at the launch of the program, WaterAid Team Leader for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Chuchu Selma described Water Action Month as a critical agenda that has claimed the attention of the world. He said the issue surrounding the provision of water has claimed the attention of the world and as a means of solving the matter of safe drinking water, the United Nations has added premium on the issue. Mr. Selma noted that the only way some improvements can be made in the WASH sector of the country is when the CSOs WASH Network continues a robust advocacy. Mr. Selma said such a campaign will continue to remind government of its obligations to the citizenry. He added that such a campaign should remain robust to draw the attention of government to the critical needs of the people when it comes to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues in the country. Mr. Selma noted that as much the citizens will demand government to provide WASH facilities, it is equally the responsibility on the part of citizens to maintain the facilities. He said Civil Society has a core role to play by informing the beneficiaries about taking ownership of the facilities. The Head of the British charity in Liberia and Sierra Leone disclosed that a report conducted in 2011 clearly shows the breakdown of installed facilities especially hand pumps. He wants the issue of WASH provision to be a holistic approach, whereby beneficiaries, NGOS and government will play their respective roles in the sustainability of WASH facilities.
The launch of the Water Action Month also witnessed the release of an Assessment Report on WASH In Schools and Health Centers. Releasing the Report, Liberia CSOs WASH Network Chairman, Prince Kreplah said their finding were appealing. Mr. Kreplah noted that school authorities, especially need to double efforts aimed at ensuring that students are provided decent WASH facilities. He said from schools where the Assessment was conducted, the Report gives a clearer picture on the problems at various schools in the country, ranging from poor facilities, no maintenance, over crowdedness and absence of WASH facilities on campuses. Mr. Kreplah indicated that conditions were similar at health centers where the Assessment was also conducted. According to him, the lack of safe drinking water couple with poor toilet facilities can be physically seen at the health centers.
This year 2016 is an exciting year for campaigning and advocacy on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). It marks the beginning of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs Global Goals), setting the development agenda until 2030. Governments are expected to develop national level implementation plans-country road maps on how to achieve this ambitious Agenda over the next 15 years.
News article originally posted on Shout Africa online on 10 March, 2016.