…Declares Six communities Open Defecation Free – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – The Christian Charity, Living Water International has declared six communities in Margibi County Open Defecation Free (ODF).
The exercise was verified and approved by the Liberian government, through the Ministries of Health and Public Works in partnership with other actors in the WASH sector of Liberia.
These communities obtained the status through the government’s driven Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Program.
The ODF communities include Moolia, Dwain-ta, Diamamue, Gbaye, Kpayah-ta in Cinta Township, Kakata District and Musa Sheriff Town Gbafen Clan, Gibi District.
Providing an overview of CLTS in Liberia, the Coordinator of the National Technical Coordination Unit, Leahown Tokpah, said in March 2009, UNICEF in collaboration with WaterAid, organized a CLTS workshop for five Anglophone West African countries, including Liberia, in Otukpo, Benue State.
The workshop promoted the CLTS Approach and facilitated the development of action plans for introducing CLTS in all participating countries with an aim for building the human capacities and sharing experiences of other counties in relation to sanitation.
As a result of the engagements, Mr. Tokpah said ten communities were triggered as a pilot project.
He said from UNICEF, WaterAid, CHF International, Concern Worldwide and Oxfam, a small scale CLTS Program was designed in Liberia in 2009.
UNICEF funded the pilot, implemented by the government of Liberia in partnership with local partners focusing on communities in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
Thirteen communities were triggered with all eventually becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF).
From 2009 onwards, CLTS has been implemented as a regular Community Initiative under the coordination of the National Steering Committee, with the National Technical Coordinating Unit providing support to partners.
The CLTS celebration in Margibi over the weekend was also attended by the Regional Director of Living Water International, Ruth Okowa.
Speaking about her visit to Liberia, Madam Okowa informed WASH Reporters that her visit was to lend support to the organization’s WASH Program in the country.
The intend of the WASH Program of Living Water International in Liberia is to provide safe water to marginalized and underprivileged communities with the Love of God and the spread of the Gospel.
She described the Open Defecation Free status as a means of preventing illnesses in rural communities.
Madam Okowa asserted the need for improved WASH services provision in Liberia is enormous, adding that she will make sure that the necessary funding is secured to support the entity’s WASH Program in the country.
Also making remarks at the program, the Country Director of Living Water International, Austin Nyaplue commended residents of the six communities for been cooperative in making sure that their respective areas obtained ODF status.
Mr. Nyaplue also applauded WASH Champions from communities that were declared ODF previously for assisting these communities for obtaining their status.
He cautioned the communities to ensure that they remained and maintained their ODF status, noting that is the only way they will qualify for safe drinking water.
For their part, citizens of the communities praised Living Water International for initiating such a program in the communities.
The citizens revealed that they were living in filth without prior knowledge, but with the intervention of Living Water International (LWI) through CLTS, they are now living healthy and happily.
The residents assured Living Water and the government that they will continue to practice improved sanitation to maintain the Open Defecation Free Status.
The Program brought together WASH Partners from both government and the private sector, county authority and citizens/residents.
Meanwhile, Living Water International-Liberia has been described as a Champion for Community Led Total Sanitation in Liberia.
The Christian charity was commanded by participants attending the Program over the weekend in Margibi county, including government representatives (county authorities) WASH Partners (Stakeholders) and community residents.