….As Liberian Children Petition Parliament for Improved WASH Sector -By: WASH R&E – Children from the fifteen sub-political divisions of the country have advanced several recommendations to members of the National Legislature aimed at improving the water, sanitation and hygiene sector of Liberia.
The recommendations were presented to Deputy House Speaker Hans Barchu over the weekend at the Seat of the National Legislature on Capitol Hill in commemoration of the Day of the African Child which was held Saturday.
According to a dispatch from the WASHR&E Network of Liberia, the children’s recommendations, among other things, called on the National Legislature to apportion resources in the draft budget for the proposed Water and Sanitation Commission.
The Children observed that the current draft budget before the National Legislature does not allot resources for the sector .
They also want the National Legislature to increase public spending to the WASH Sector and the National Commission on Disability through the draft national budget.
The WASHR&E-dispatch says the children further urged the National Legislature to liaise with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to ensure that the Water and Sanitation Commission is established in the country.
They want standing committees on WASH be setup at the both Houses to provide legislative oversight on the WASH Sector.
In the children’s statement read by Michal Dennis of Saint Teresa Convent, they recounted the World Bank 2012 report which revealed that 3000 Liberians including 1800 children under five die each year from diarrhea while ninety percent died directly due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
Student Dennis pointed out in the report that over forty percent of Schools in the country cannot provide safe drinking water for students.
Under the universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to Student Dennis, persons with disability, among others, mandate Governments around the world including the Liberian Government to guarantee that persons with disabilities enjoy their inherent right to live on equal basis with others.
However, she quoted that person with disabilities especially children remain discriminated against in every sector of the Liberian society including education, health care, accessing water, sanitation and hygiene and infrastructure among others.
The children’s statement to the National Legislature was done under the auspices of the Liberia CSOs WASH Network of Liberia.
In response, Deputy House Speaker, Hans Barchu called on National Government to construct more public facilities, as a means of improving the livelihood of Liberians.
Deputy Speaker Barchu said due to lack of public facilities mainly toilets, community dwellers in some parts of Monrovia are using the beaches and rivers to defecate which is not hygienic.
Mr. Barchu said using the beaches and rivers as toilets are leading to the continue outbreak of water borne diseases among Liberians, especially the children that need to be stopped by Government.
The Deputy House Speaker who is also a Representative of Grand Bassa County lamented that a greater portion of the country population lacks access to safe drinking water.
Meanwhile, Representative Barchu has assured the Liberian Children of working with his colleagues to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene sector of the country
He told the children that their statement was timely because it was presented at the time members of that August Body will be discussing the National Budget.
The Grand Bassa County Lawmaker informed them that he will lobby with his colleagues to ensure that allotment for the WASH Sector is amended to adequately address the sector needs.
Deputy Speaker Barchu also assured the children that their statement will be shared with members of the both Houses.
The Program was organized by the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network, with support from WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Plan Liberia.