… As Liberia, SIERRA LEONE Prepare for Global Conference – BY: WASH R&E Network-Liberia – A 2-day High Level Inter-Ministerial Meeting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Monrovia with delegates from Liberia and Sierra Leone committing their respective Governments and peoples to three main areas that could address the problems of WASH in both Countries.
The delegates committed their Countries to ensuring WASH Sector Financing, Institutional Reforms and quality service provision for the wellbeing of their peoples.
According to a dispatch from WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia, the delegates made the commitment Thursday, at the close of the two day High Level Inter Ministerial WASH meeting held in Monrovia from March 21-22, 2012.
The Meeting was held under the chairmanship of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, WASH Goodwill Ambassador for Africa.
The Monrovia meeting prepares both Countries for the pending Global Sanitation and Water for all (SWA) Initiative Conference in Washington D.C from April 19-20, 2012.
Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods read the two-page Commitment Document labeled “Outcome document” of the Meeting.
According to the two-page Document which carries the Seals of both Countries (Liberian and Sierra Leone), the commitments are aimed at ensuring the promotion, availability, accessibility and affordability of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in both Countries.
The Document further states that the two Governments are committed to prioritize the allocation and utilization of financial resources for WASH within their Countries’ limited constraints.
In the Document, the Liberian government wants separate budget lines be included for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and also continuous support to the creation of a pooled fund mechanism for WASH to better manage resources from government and development partners.
Well, as part of efforts to ensuring quality service provision, the Liberian government is currently finalizing standards of service delivery including specification of construction of rural WASH facilities which will be published and enforced.
As regards Institutional Reform, the Liberian government says after allocation of 2012 budget, it will fast track the establishment of several issues including: (1) the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Promotion Committee; (2) the Water Supply and Sanitation Commission, and (3) The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Bureau as well as committed to establish a Water and sanitation Board, as part of institutional changes.
For its part, the Government of Sierra Leone said it is committed to investigate the pooled fund mechanism for possible involvement aimed at moving the WASH sector forward.
Under the new agenda for prosperity, Sierra Leone has planned to increase resources to the WASH Sector and after the pending High Level Meeting in April 2012, it has further planned to create a separate budget line for sanitation in that neighboring Country.
The outcome Document indicates that Sierra Leone is undertaking a process to empower the District Council to deliver sanitation (including Waste Management) through increased resources, clarity of roles and responsibility and increased capacity to monitor and evaluate service delivery with a particular focus on Health facilities.
For Sierra Leone, the Government said it is committed to restructure the Environmental Sanitation Department both at National and District levels to raise the profile and resources for sanitation as a preventive health intervention.
Sierra Leonean counterpart commits to placing women at the centre of what they do, especially in terms of needs analysis and monitoring committees to ensure adequate service delivery at health facility level.
Speaking at the close of the two-Day Inter-Ministerial WASH High Level Meeting, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the two-day Meeting of Ministers from two neighboring Countries will contribute immensely to the WASH Sector of both Countries.
Also speaking, Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madame Zainab Bangura said her Country has learnt a lot from its Liberian Counterpart relative to putting in place institutional framework to move the WASH Sector forward.
Under the commitments, both Governments will allocate and utilize their resources for the WASH sector and to create a pooled fund mechanism for Water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to adequately manage resources from Government and development partners.
Also, according to the Document, both Governments are to establish and restructure existing Institutions like “Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Bureau”, “National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Committee” including the “Environmental Sanitation Department”, among others.
On the issue of ensuring quality service provision, the delegates want women to be placed at the center to analyze and monitor various Committees to ensure adequate service delivery at Health facility level.
During the 2-day WASH High Level Inter-Ministerial Meeting, the Liberian and Sierra Leonean WASH Networks including the Civil Society Organizations WASH Working Group also presented a seven-count joint statement in which they request both governments to increase public spending on WASH to ensure compliance to the eThequini Declaration.
They CSO Groups also want the two Governments cut taxes on WASH related importations and to address the funding gaps as well as accelerate access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in poor Communities.
The two-page statement signed by the Chairman of Liberia CSOs WASH Working Group, Prince D. Kreplah, and Executive Secretary for WASH-Net of Sierra Leone, Victor Lansana Koroma, further want WASH prioritize in National Development Agenda and a Multi-Stakeholder approach in addressing challenges in the WASH Sector.
President Sirleaf chaired the Meeting, while the technical sessions were chaired by the Health Minister of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mrs. Bangura, UNICEF-Country Director Isabel Crowley, WaterAid Team Leader for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Apollos Nwafor including his colleague, Nelson Gomonda, and Madam Margaret Kilo of the African Development Bank, among several others.
Representatives of AFDB, DFID, UNICEF, USAID, and the Consortium and WaterAid graced the occasion. During the Meeting, a Short drama on the theme: “Water and Food Security”, was staged by the Liberian National Culture Troupe.
The Meeting was jointly organized by WaterAid and UNICEF, as part of the celebration marking World Water Day.
Several other activities were also held in Monrovia, Liberia, as part of the celebration marking World Water Day beginning with the “official opening of the Central Offices of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia on Monday, March 19, 2012”, “a WASH Media Interactive Conference with Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods and other WASH Partners from Liberia and Sierra Leone on Tuesday, March 20, 2012”, “a One day Orientation Workshop for Members of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network-Liberia on Tuesday, March 20, 2012”, and “a 2-day Inter-Ministerial WASH Conference chaired by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on March 21-22, 2012” respectively.