LIBERIA: CSO Frowns on WASH Sector Ministries

…As GoL Launches Compact Awareness – By: WASH R&E Network – A nationwide campaign to popularize the Liberia Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Compact has been launched in Monrovia, with dissatisfaction against key Ministers in the Sector reportedly showing lack of interest in on-going efforts to ensure access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and sanitation.

Cross section of participants at the launch of the WASH Compact Awareness Exercise

Cross section of participants at the launch of the WASH Compact Awareness Exercise

The chairman of the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network, Prince D. Kreplah, said the lack of commitment by some Ministers, was shown during the recent High Level Inter-Ministerial WASH Meetings both in Monrovia (between Liberia and Sierra Leone) and the United States.

He named Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, Lands Mines & Energy Minister, Patrick Sandolo, and Health Minister, Walter Gwenigale as Ministers who boycotted the Inter-Ministerial Meetings in Liberia and the USA.

According to Mr. Kreplah, if the WASH sector is to be improved key actors should devote their time and commitment in helping CSOs, Stake Holders and partners to provide and put in place the necessary measures to ensure the that needed change to be experienced in the sector.

Mr. Kreplah however commanded the Public Works Minister for providing a leadership role in the sector, something his fellow Ministers have failed to do.

For his part, Public Works Minister, Samuel Koffi Woods speaking at the launch of the awareness Tuesday, said President Sirleaf has given the authority to take on leadership of the sector ensuring that all agreed upon in the WASH Compact is implemented by government and partners.

Mr. Woods said, Public works as the Lead-Ministry providing governance in the sector, he will ensure that all efforts are asserted to drive the government’s agenda in making sure that key provisions in the Compact are fully implemented.

The Public Works boss challenged key actors in the sector to put in place mechanism in making sure that by July 2012, an Executive Order is issued by President Sirleaf for the creation of the Water Supply and Sanitation Commission.

The Commission is a product of the Liberia WASH Compact with the oversight responsibility of setting up guidelines and regulations for the sector.

Minister Woods said President Sirleaf is committed to improve the sector and ensure the necessary funds are provided to establish an enabling WASH environment.

He also said government is committed to injecting in to its national budget a clear cut budget item for direct support to the sector, adding that he will personally lobby with his colleagues for the budget line to be reflected in the Country’s budget.

Also making remarks at the launch of the WASH Compact Awareness, African Development Bank Country Director, Margaret Kilo commended the Liberian Government for achievements made in the sector since the signing of the compact by President Sirleaf.

Madame Kilo reiterated her Institution’s continued support to the government for the WASH sector, promising to scout for more funding for the WASH sector.

She disclosed that the Bank has appropriated 50 million United States Dollars for the next three years to provide funding for ongoing WASH sector.

Delivering a special statement of support on behalf of Health Minister, Walter Gwengale, Deputy Health Minister for Planning, Research and Development, Yah Zolic, said the her Ministry will drive the implementation of the soft ware component of the WASH Compact.

Madame Zolic disclosed that this will be done in the form of awareness, ensuring water quality control, among others.

Deputy Minister Zolic indicated that it will be carryout by the development of a comprehensive implementation strategy by mobilizing the necessary resources and by strengthen the Division of Environmental Health at the ministry.

She said the Ministry will also work with partners and stake holders in creating awareness for the Liberia Public Health Law ensuring that basic water and sanitation services should be maintained at institution and community levels.

The official launch of the Liberia WASH Compact Awareness Campaign paves the way for series of massive activities to popularize the Document to Liberian and foreign residents in urban and rural Liberia.

The awareness team leaves Monrovia beginning Wednesday, May 23, 2012 to commence awareness activities.

The Compact which was crafted at a Multi- National Donor Conference in May 2011 named Institutional Capacity, Service Provision priorities and Equity, Data and Monitoring and financing mechanism as key components of the Document.

The vision of the Compact is to use clean water supply and safe sanitation as a force for the reduction of water supply and sanitation related disease burden, and also increase productivity, promote human welfare and setting the nation on a path towards long term sustainability growth, development and poverty reduction.