…Ahead of Joint Multi-donor Mission – By: Augustine N. Myers – The President of the Republic of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has reaffirmed her government’s support to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of the Country.
The commitment by the President, is said to be part of efforts by the Liberian Government to shape and drive the re-development of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the Country.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic established in 1822 and gained independence in 1847, was engulfed in 14 years of bloody civil crisis from 1989-2003, leaving its basic social services destroyed, including water and health.
Following the end of the war and the subsequent election of Africa’s first democratic elected female President, Liberia’s road map towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) estimates that access to safe drinking water for Liberians is only 25 percent, while access to human waste collection and disposal facilities is 14 percent, and only 5% for those that practice safe hygiene.
The Liberian leader speaking in an interview with a freelance Journalist and British Author, Rose George recently at her Foreign Ministry office said her government knowing the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene, remains supportive of the sector.
The President was quoted by Madam George who later spoke to the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia, as saying that as WASH Good-will Ambassador, she remains committed to ensuing access to water and sanitation for all.
According to Madam George, her interview with the Liberian Chief Executive focused on sanitation. She also stressed the importance of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
The freelance journalist and British Author said the interview with the President was organized by WaterAid International as part of an assessment of WASH projects in River Gee County, undertaken by the Organization. She also said the interview was equally necessitated by her admiration for the Liberian President, following an article she wrote in The New York Times, last September.
According to her, she was impressed that a Head of State could publically talk about sanitation, something other leaders could not easily do.
President Johnson-Sirleaf in her article on September 16, 2010 titled “The Orphan Development Goal”, said her government has made strong commitments to increase access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water at the national level.
Meanwhile, a Joint Multi-donor Mission arrives in Liberia on April 26, as part of efforts by government to galvanize support and mobilize resources at home and abroad to improve the Country’s water and sanitation service delivery with effectiveness and maximum coordination.
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), an international partnership of governments, donors, civil society organizations, and others working together to increase political and financial commitments for WASH delivery, by conducting a Mission to Liberia from April 27 to May 3, 2011, with the purpose of supporting the Government of Liberia in developing a WASH Compact.
The Mission among other things, seeks to establish consensus on roadmap for the development of the water and sanitation sector in Liberia, and examine how to develop and support an ending planning process that will inform and sustain achievement of the Road Map.
It further seeks to secure commitments, or preliminary pledges, for the Liberian government and its development partners in the form of a Compact leading to achievement of the sector goals.
The objectives of the Mission are expected to be accomplished through discussions with Government Ministries, Departments, and agencies, bilateral and multilateral agencies and other development partners.
A high level interaction is also expected to take place between the Liberian leader and the Mission on Tuesday, May 3 to discuss outcomes reflecting an assessment of options and priorities for the Country to focus renewed efforts towards accelerating access.
Focus will be on the understanding of key obstacles to sector development and developing strategies for overcoming such obstacles. The obstacles include WASH governance and structure, data management, planning, human and technical capacities among others, where inter-agency collaboration and increased sector spending are fundamentally critical.
It is the hope of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia (WASH R&E) that the visit of the Joint Multi-donor Mission will ensure that support is galvanized to mobilize resources both locally and globally, to ensure adequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene across Liberia, because in rural areas, access is even lower, particularly in the southeast of the country where four of six counties have the lowest levels of access to safe drinking water, among others.