By: Augustine N. Myers -….As Both Countries complete 2-week visit to Bangladesh- After years of civil war, Sierra Leone and Liberia water, sanitation and hygiene sectors are said to be faced with numerous technical, materials and financial challenges. As a means of addressing these challenges and in an effort to accelerate access of the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia to safe drinking water, improve sanitation and good hygiene behavior, seven Liberians and two Sierra Leoneans recently attended nearly two weeks of learning exchange in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
According to a dispatch, five civil society organizations and two Directors from the Liberian government attended the learning event. The dispatch coated the head of the two countries participants who attended the learning, Mr. Prince D. Kreplah who also chairs the Liberia Civil Society Organizations Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Working Group as saying the purpose of the learning exchange is to create the space for participants of the two countries to learn from the experiences of the Sector in Bangladesh, especially the concept of Community Lead Total Sanitation (CLTs) and possibly apply knowledge acquired to their national context. Mr. Kreplah according to the dispatch said CLTs is a newly derived strategy that creates the space whereby community dwellers themselves are at the center of ensuring that communities have access to improve sanitation using locally available resources, human, materials and tools.
Mr. Kreplah said CLTs was invented by a Bangladeshi national, Dr. Kamoka and is fast taking over the whole world, Mr. Kreplah said Liberia cannot afford to miss this concept and the country is suitably placed for CLTs. According to him, the introduction of CLTs on a full-scale basis in Liberia will address the funding gap facing the sector
Meanwhile, according to Mr. Kreplah the two countries (Sierra Leone and Liberia) entered into an agreement establishing a Mino River Union Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network. He said key among the objectives of the network is to
- * Encourage MRU countries governments high level political leadership through the secretariat to make substantial use of locally available resources (human, materials, technology etc) within the borders of the basin to enhance capacity as a means of cost saving and sustainability;
- * Advocate for the adoption of common policy on Tran-boundary Water Resource management. To this end, key focus of the policy will be on management of conflict arising from Tran-boundary water resources, establishment of common interest and method of management, miss use and the protection of states interest and the establishment of guide that inform how investment can be made on trans-boundary water resources;
- * Encourage learning exchanges and sheerings between member countries water, sanitation and hygiene sector players, practitioners and technicians from government, development partners, civil society and international NGOs as a means of low cost capacity development and improving service delivery;
- * Promote participation of water, sanitation and hygiene sector civil society in the MRU and national policies formulation, implementation, project design and implementation as a means of sustainability, democratic ownership and ensuring their rights to participate in decision making;
-· * Advocate for visibility of water, sanitation and hygiene in the union’s development agenda and explore the union as key partner through which civil society can influence ECOWAS and the AU processes aim at raising the profile of water, sanitation and hygiene;
- * Advocate to the union and donors for increase political support and financing for water, sanitation and hygiene aspects of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and national development agendas of member states.
Mr. Prince D. Kreplah was meanwhile appointed by the participants as coordinator of the network while Musa Ansumana Soko of the Sierra Leone WASH Network was appointed as assistant coordinator. The interim steering committee of five people mandate among other thing is to adopt strategy that will bring Guinea and Ivory Coast on board, mobilize technical, financial and material support to make operational the network.
The learning exchange was sponsored by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Liberia WASH Consortium and WaterAid-Liberia.