LIBERIA: WASH Civil Society ENDs General Assembly

 …Network Established, New Leadership Elected – By: WASH R&E Network-Liberia – Civil Society Organizations across Liberia involved in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of the Country, have ended their first General Assembly in Monrovia with the adoption of several recommendations and measures including the change of name from the Liberia CSOs WASH Working Group to the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network.

The Network is to lead a sustained advocacy in the WASH sector of Liberia and provide support to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable people to access safe drinking water, improved sanitation and good hygiene by using human rights based approach.

The newly established Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network says it will engage government, development partners and other relevant national, international and county level stakeholders to ensure that service delivery in the sector is truly improved.

The three-day 1st General Assembly of the WASH CSOs which was held at the Central Offices of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia also adopted a 3-year Strategic Plan to serve as a road map for the implementation of the Network’s policies and activities.

The official launch of the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network was performed by Mr. Apollos Nwafor, Team Leader of WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Nwafor reminded the WASH Civil Society Organizations of their role in holding government and other WASH stakeholders accountable of ensuring access to water, sanitation and hygiene across Liberia.

He reiterated his Organization’s commitment to the support of the Network which has already started through an existing partnership.

For his part, Mr. Samuel Pieh, Coordinator of the Liberia WASH Consortium performed the induction of the newly elected Officers of the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network.

Mr. Pieh challenged the new WASH Civil Society Leaders to remain focused in their quest of advancing improvements in the sector in the interest of the Nation and people, especially the less-fortunate in society.

He also challenged members of the newly established Liberia CSOs WASH Network to remain supportive of initiatives, advocacy and education to ensure all Liberians and foreign residents have access to WASH.

Mr. Pieh said the level of dynamism being exhibited by the CSOs in the WASH Sector is an indication that the Group is committed to ensure that there is improved access, quality to water, sanitation and hygiene for all in Liberia.

Mr. Pieh also used the occasion to remind the Network members how important and critical the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene is, describing it as the life wire of any economic development and the foundation of good health including tourism.

The Liberia WASH Consortium Coordinator commended members of the newly established Network for the positive step taken.

In remarks, the Chairman of the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network , Prince D. Kreplah, said the holding of the 1st General Assembly is in fulfillment of the tenants of democracy which guarantees participation in decision making.

Mr. Kreplah further said the Assembly created the space for members to usher in a new leadership of their choice and it also identified the weakness and strength of the Group.

He said the transformation of the Liberia CSOs WASH Working Group into a full Network is part of the steps leading to the decentralization of its activities, expansion of membership and it will enhance the quest to achieve its mission, vision and objectives.

The Liberia CSOs WASH Network Chairman described as critical, the needs of the population which include revitalization and rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities, construction and maintenance of water points, latrines and creating massive awareness to increase the understanding of the masses, stressing that they will be top on his agenda.

Mr. Kreplah further disclosed that the Network has strategized using rights based approach to engage and lobby President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, “WASH Goodwill Ambassador for Africa” and her government especially lines Ministries, Public Corporations and the National Legislature to accelerate action with the goal of ensuring that the population access safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities with strong emphasis on vulnerable groups and hard to reach communities.

“The new Leadership with support from broad based Membership will lobby the 53rd National Legislature of Liberia for the establishment of a Standing Committee on water and sanitation in both Houses that will provide oversight on the sector and issues”, Kreplah pointedout.

The newly elected officials to steer the affairs of the Network for the next three years are Mr. Prince D. Kreplah of the Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia as Chairman, Mr. Augustine N. Myers of the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia, as Co-Chairman, and Mr. A. Saydee Monboe of the Liberia NGOs Network, as Secretary General. Others include Miss Nelly Attidigah of the Liberia Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia, and Rev. Isaac Kamara of the Bomi Chapter of the Liberia CSOs WASH Network as Steering Committee Members, respectively.

The Liberia CSOs WASH Working Group was established in 2009 with the purpose of bringing water, sanitation and hygiene needs of the population of Liberia to the center of national development planning and agenda setting.

With three years of existence, the Organization in collaboration with partners has succeeded in influencing the government and development partners to take serious action aimed at addressing the water and sanitation needs of the population.

The close of the first General Assembly also witnessed the signing of a Memoranda of Understanding between the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network and Plan Liberia.