….As High Level WASH Meeting Opens in U.S – By: WASH R&E-Network-Liberia – The Liberian government has expressed satisfaction for the level of global achievement for the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for drinking water and is calling for joint efforts in providing access to safe sanitation which according it say is more crucial in tackling killer diseases in developing countries.
The Liberian Government’s call was made by Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods when he proxy for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (WASH Goodwill Ambassador for Africa) at the start of the High Level WASH Meeting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All in Washington DC, the United States on Thursday.
Minister Woods said although significant progress has been made in achieving global percentage of the overall target for water, there are still over 783 million people that do not have access to safe water which 300 million of that number are to be found in Sub-Sahara Africa.
He indicated that the current rate at which Africa is moving at the sanitation front, it will take over 150 years or more to accomplish significant target which if imagine, the terrible consequences of any delay will create negative and downward trend in realizing the needed objective.
Minister Woods said, to mitigate the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) crisis in Liberia, the government of Liberia signed a Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, an international platform aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking water.
According to him, Liberia hosted a Joint Multi Donor Mission that resulted in the development of a Compact on Water and Sanitation which was adopted into Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy document. He further said the compact underscores the commitments of the Liberian Government and lays out a roadmap for improvement over the next two years.
Minister Woods also informed the gathering that Liberia plans to establish a Water Supply Board to ensure that the WASH sector is given an institutional home and top priority on the Country’s development agenda.
Other important supporting strategies, including the sector according to Minister Woods have been developed and will ensure that Liberia’s planning system at the highest level are able to guide and capture progress. “This is especially important because we want to ensure that the service reaches the poorest and most vulnerable group”, Minister Woods maintained.
“SWA is a global intergovernmental partnership that has brought us together and presents opportunities for innovative approaches. For example, the development of the WASH Compact in Liberia was carried out with support from Ghana, a clear illustration of South-South cooperation. We are adopting the same approach with Sierra Leone because we believe that other countries can learn and benefit from this approach”, Minister Woods further asserted.
Over sixty Ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios from over thirty countries including Liberia are participating in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) 2-day High Level Meeting which commenced on April 19-20 at the World Bank in Washington, DC.
The aimed of the Meeting is to agree on urgent action towards ensuring that access to sanitation and safe drinking water becomes a reality for billions of people who still live without them.
The Public Works Minister used the occasion to invite and encourage other developing nations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, to join the SWA partnership by making clear commitments for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), fundamental to reducing poverty and improving GDP. “I also want to encourage our development partners to ensure that their support and funding are targeted at countries where the need is greatest. Transparency and accountability must serve as guideposts in our actions”, Minister Woods indicated.
As success story continues to rise in the WASH sector in Liberia, Minister Woods shared with other governments the initiatives the Country has taken and said Liberia looks forward to learning from the exercise of others and what they can learn from the successes and challenges of the Nation. According to him, Liberia has not done all that needs to be done, but the Nation is well on its way.
He further said if they were to achieve the MDGs for water and sanitation in all the countries represented at the Meeting, it is estimated that they could save the lives of over 400,000 children by 2015 and make life better for hundreds of millions more.
Liberia success case was highlighted in several of the meetings especially the recent endorsed WASH compact by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
According to Darren Saywell, Vice Chair of SWA, Liberia has increased political prioritization and succeeded greatly in robust country planning in the WASH sector through a defined National Policy aimed at reconciling the sector in an appreciable level.
Former Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor, Chair of SWA highlighted the importance of the availability of safe drinking water to the sanitation need of the people. He expressed the hope for continuous commitment from both government and donor communities in accomplishing this noble objective.
The 2-Day Meeting highlighted government and donor success stories and by extension commitment in the Sanitation and Water front and the way forward.
Liberia was represented by Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi woods, WaterAid Team Leader for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Apollos Nwafor, Assistant Public works Minister for Community Services, George Nyango, and the Chairman of the Liberia CSOs WASH Network, Prince D. Kreplah.