LIBERIA: Legislators Form Partnership with WASH

By: WASH R&E Network – As the momentous campaign continues to create an enabling environment for access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene in Liberia, a partnership has been formed between the Liberia CSOs WASH Network and some members of the 53rd National Legislature to champion WASH issues at that August body.

One of the Signatories to the WASH Pledge Card, Representative Acarious Moses Gray  (edge of table) reiterating their commitments for WASH, while his colleagues attentively listen

One of the Signatories to the WASH Pledge Card, Representative Acarious Moses Gray (edge of table) reiterating their commitments for WASH, while his colleagues attentively listen

The partnership was established last Friday at a dinner meeting organized by the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network, a group leading an advocacy for government and development partners to provide safe drinking water, Improved Sanitation and better hygiene.

The dinner meeting was called by the CSOs to provide vital information to the law markers concerning the Liberia WASH sector, the national budget and also to inform them about government’s commitment to the sector.

At the dinner meeting held at a local hotel in Monrovia, the CSOs WASH Network called on the Legislators to assist them in making sure that there is a line item in the National Budget for water, sanitation and hygiene.

Welcoming the Law Markers at the program, the Chairman of the Network, Prince D. Kreplah commanded them for attending the dinner meeting and for their interest in taking strong political action with the goal of addressing issues relating the Liberia WASH sector.

Mr. Kreplah informed them that the dinner meeting was a follow-up to the signing of the pledge card committing themselves in supporting efforts gear toward establishing a favorable environment for WASH in the country.

The Process leading to the signing of political commitments by most of the Law Makers was carried out by the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia through the “Candidates’ Engagements” during the campaign activities of the 2011 General and Presidential elections in Liberia.

A release from the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia says during the dinner meeting, the group called for partnership with the law makers to buttress efforts by stake holders and development partners in pushing the WASH sector forward.

The WASH CSOs Chairman further told the Law Markers that the establishment of a Standing Committee with oversight on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in both houses is one of the items topping the agenda of his group.

He said with the establishment of the committee in the National Legislature, it will create more awareness and concern about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in Liberia.

The group presented four separate documents to the Law Markers, ranging from commitments made by the government in the sector, loses Liberia experiences annually due to poor sanitation, the WASH Compact- document detailing issues in the WASH sector and the way forward, and resolution 64/292 adopted by the UN General Assembly making water and sanitation a human right issue.

In remarks, the Law Markers reassured the CSOs of their commitment in championing the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene in the both Houses (Representatives and Senate).

According to them, the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene cannot be over-emphasized due to its importance and the role it plays in the lives of all Liberians.

The Law Markers urged the CSOs to be in constant contact with them and continue to provide necessary information that will be used as a tool to lobby with their colleagues in making WASH a hot cake at the National Legislature.

They however disclosed that all will be done from their end of the Legislature to persuade President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to issue the Executive Order for the establishment of a Water Supply & Sanitation Commission(WSSC).

The Legislators further encouraged the CSOs to always knock on their doors for their intervention whenever a new issue comes about relating to the WASH sector.

Scene from the Liberia WASH CSOs Legislative Dinner Meeting in Monrovia

Scene from the Liberia WASH CSOs Legislative Dinner Meeting in Monrovia

The WSSC is one of the several recommendations contained in the Liberia WASH Compact as an Institutional Firm Work to provide governance in the water and sanitation sector of the country.

At the end of their deliberation, the CSOs and Law Makers agreed to push for the amendment rules creating committees to facilitate the creation of a Standing Committee on WASH as a way of demonstrating both Houses’ political will in prioritizing WASH on their Legislative Agenda.

The Committee set up by the law makers and CSOs is headed by Montserrado County Representative, Saah Joseph.

Law Makers attending the dinner meeting include Representatives Thomas Fallah, Acarious Gray, Solomon George, Saah Joseph and A. Vamuyan  Corneh of Montserrado County, Representative Garison Yalue of Nimba County,  and Senators Peter Coleman and  Sando Johnson of Bomi  and Grand Kru Counties respectively.

The Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network include “Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia”, “WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia”, “Liberia NGOs Network”, “Women NGO Secretariat”, “Concerned Christian Community”, and Association of Evangelicals Liberia”, together with other County Based WASH CSO Chapters.