By: WASH R&E Network-Liberia – The year 2012 will be remembered for various reasons regarding different issues and events, but for journalists exclusively focusing on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues across Liberia, it will indeed be remembered for a special event.
The most memorable event in 2012 for Liberian WASH journalists was the creation of a platform to ensure their congregation on a working-weekly basis for the enhancement of WASH Journalism across the country.
The involvement of the media in the WASH sector of Liberia has become so critical, that it continues to generate demanding interest amongst media practitioners thereby making WASH a topical issue.
An example of the professional and robust involvement of the media consequently generated a national flavor leading to the inclusion of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the respective political manifestos of candidates (Representative, Senatorial and Presidential) during the 2011 General and Presidential Elections.
The WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia was established at the end of 2010 and subsequently officially launched in early 2011 at a very elaborate program bringing together dignitaries and others from all sectors of society (both public and private) with a key focus on WASH particularly the Media perspective.
WASH R&E was initially operating from a small office space in Paynesville, outside Monrovia which was provided by its host, the Liberia Media Empowerment & Advocacy Foundation (LIMEAF INC.) in 2011.
In 2012, WASH R&E Network-Liberia acquired a more spacious building for an office in central Monrovia to ensure the enhancement of WASH Journalism across the country.
The acquisition of the WASH Media Office was considered a boost to WASH Journalism and Advocacy across Liberia, bringing together reporters, editors and publishers from over 50 media institutions.
The WASH R&E Office was acquired with the support of the Liberia WASH Consortium and WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Heads of WaterAid and the Liberia WASH Consortium officiated the opening ceremonies when they cut the ribbons to the WASH Media Headquarters during the formal opening program held Monday, March 18, 2012 on Carey Street-Crown Hill in Central Monrovia.
Mr. Apollos Nwafor, Water Aid Country Director for both Liberia and Sierra Leone assured the WASH media Group of his organization’s fullest support in terms of logistics, capacity building and human resource development for improved services and sustainable growth.
Mr. Nwafor urged members of the WASH Media Network to remain committed in helping to improving the wellbeing of the people of Liberia through sturdy advocacy and media services in the country, ensuring that all have access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene facilities.
He pledged to shoulder fifty-percent of the monthly salary for the staffers of the WASH Media Network, among others.
According to WaterAid Boss, the appalling water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Liberia needed some serious approaches to reduce the high rates of death, illnesses, poverty and illiteracy in Liberia.
He then called on the Liberian government and people, including International, local NGOs and other partners to assist the WASH Media Network with logistics, capacity building, and human resources development, among others.
He expressed strong need for the WASH Media Network to be present and cover the entire country in its advocacy and media services.
Mr. Samuel Pieh, who was then the Coordinator of the Liberia WASH Consortium lauded the works of the Network and pledged the consortium’s support toward the activities of the WASH Media Network.
The Liberia WASH Consortium comprised of five international non-governmental organizations including CONCERN Worldwide, Tear Fund, ACTION de FAIM International, Oxfam and SOLIDARITES International.
According to Mr. Pieh, the Liberia WASH Consortium is ready to assist the Network achieve its objectives through the provisions of needed materials, expertise, funding, equipment, trainings and funding, among others.
He urged the Network to always contact the Consortium when ever in need or encountering problem within the wash sector.
The Liberia WASH Consortium Boss also used the occasion to appeal to both the government, local and international organizations including individuals to help support the works of the WASH Media Network.
According to him, the high rates of illiteracy and poverty in the country made the tasks of the WASH Media Network very difficult, therefore needed every assistance to succeed in its advocacy and media services.
Mr. Leroy Johnson, Head of WASH Program at the Corporative Housing Foundation International CHF who also graced the occasion, lauded Liberian Journalists for their determination to direct special media attention to the WASH sector.
He also pledged his organization’s support towards programs of the WASH Media Network.
Mr. Johnson also committed the CHF to underwriting the cost of air-time for WASH-Hour Radio Programs in the country.
Montserrado County Representative, Julius Berrian of who also graced the occasion lauded the Network members for their effective advocacy and media services in the WASH sector.
Representative, Julius Berrian also extolled efforts of WASH sector actors in collaborating with the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia to ensure that Liberians and foreign residents have access to good water and sanitation facilities.
The Liberian Lawmaker then pledged his support to WASH sector development and volunteered his service on the board of the Network. He pledged to work with the Network and to get others involved.
Mr. A. Saydee Monboe II, who deputized for the Chairman of the Civil Society Organizations WASH Working Group (Now transformed into Civil Society Organizations WASH Network), lauded journalists for organizing themselves to direct media coverage and advocacy on the WASH sector of Liberia.
He called for collaborative efforts in championing the cause to improve the appalling WASH conditions in the country.
Mr. Monboe pledged the commitment of the civil society to partner with the WASH Media Network for the betterment of the Liberian society.
The Chairman of the Liberia CSOs WASH Network, Prince Kreplah later came and also commanded the media in general and WASH journalists for the level of interest given WASH issues across Liberia.
The Head of Liberian Environmental Journalists, Joseph Charley who also gave remarks during the ceremony urged the WASH Media Network to consider cooperation, accountability, transparency and hard work as recipes for sustainable growth and development.
He assured the WASH Media Network of his organization’s solidarity and cooperation in media coverage and advocacy in the WASH sector, adding “We need strong partnership to ably succeed in the WASH and environmental sectors.”
The President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Mr. Peter Quaqua, who arrived late at the program after several miles drive from the leeward county on official assignment, called for support WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia otherwise known as the WASH Media Network.
The PUL Boss said he could not afford to miss the ceremony which marks another milestone of media development in Liberia.
He urged the leadership and members of the Network to remain focused, ethical, law abiding, honest, respectful, transparent and accountable in the discharge of their duties.
Mr. Quaqua pledged PUL’s support and assistance to the Network, while appealing to all media houses, including local and international NGOs, PVOs and goodwill ambassadors to support the Network with needed logistics, funding, expertise, capacity building and human resource development, among others.
Mr. D.Sonpon Weah II, founding Executive member and Administrator of the Network welcomed the guests to the ceremony and said it marks innovative paradigm of media ventures in Liberia. According to Mr. Weah, the opening of the Headquarters indicates the readiness of the Network to provide needed WASH information, education and advocacy.
He thanked the Liberia WASH Consortium and WaterAid for their support to the WASH Reporters & editors Network of Liberia leading to the acquisition of a Headquarters in central Monrovia.
The acting Board Chairman of the Network, Lawrence Kordorwalee said the Board was pleased with the leadership of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia and that it will continue work the Network in the realization of its goals and objectives.
The Chairman of the Network, Augustine N. Myers gave a brief history of the Network and said the opening of the new office was just the beginning of the active involve of the media in the WASH sector, while special prayers were offered for the official dedication of the offices by Rev. Abel T. Washington, General Overseer of the Salvation Outreach Ministries in Paynesville.