….GOL Challenged To Double Efforts For WASH – By: Augustine N. Myers – On Tuesday, March 22, 2011, Liberia joined Countries the world over to observe and celebrate World Water Day.
[nggallery id=2]The aim of World Water Day this year was to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.
This year the day was celebrated under the theme, “Water for Cities; responding to the urban challenges, aims to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively address the challenge of urban water management”
World Water Day was celebrated in Liberia with the participation of over two thousand persons from Government, Civil Society, International partners, community residents and students.
The over two thousand Liberians and foreign residents marched through the principle streets of Monrovia with water cans to justify the increased need for access to saved drinking water and improved sanitation for all throughout Liberia.
The Liberia Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) WASH Working Group coordinated this year’s World Water Day national celebrations in partnership with Oxfam, WaterAid, WASH Consortium, and WASH Stakeholders from Government Ministries, Agencies and Authorities, among other Organizations and Institutions.
The celebration of World Water Day in Liberia was marked with a parade from two strategic areas, “commencing from Bushrod Island and Sinkor”, and than to Central Monrovia.
In a Petition Statement to the President of the Republic of Liberia, madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 marking “World Walk for Water Campaign”, the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Working Group first gave an overview of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector of the Country.
The Group alerted the President that according to the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) which is considered as Liberia’s role mark to development, up to 2008 only 25% of the country’s population had access to safe drinking water, 14% access solid waste and disposal facilities and 5% practice safe hygiene. This means out of the 3,500,000 population of the country, 2,625,000 do not access safe drinking water, 3,010,000 are without adequate sanitation.
The Liberia CSOs WASH Working Group also informed the President that a rural water point mapping exercise carryout by her government and development partners on preliminary analysis and verification brief suggests that out of 7,356 improved water points in rural Liberia, 4,412 which constitute 60% of the total are fully functional, while 2,138 which constitute 29% are broken down and 785 which is 10.7% are working but have problems.
This means the total of 40% 2923 water points are broken down which equally means 730,750 inhabitants in rural Liberia that previously had access to improved drinking water have been de-accessed.
The Group also addressing the President as Good will Ambassador for water in Africa, said the lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene in Liberia has also got wider health, education and economic implications, noting that Millions of Liberian children go to school late if not fail to be in school because they will have to go in search of water from long distances before getting ready for school, and sometimes in the process, they are abused of knockdown by vehicles.
The CSOs WASH Working Group further said the Country has a high child mortality rate of 145 out 1,000. Poor water and sanitation leads to high mortality rates and risk of disease. 2,900 Liberian children die annually from diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation.
It also disclosed that Liberia’s inadequate water and sanitation conditions damage the economy. An estimated 5% of GDP is lost to illness and death. Liberia has a rapid rate or urbanization, at 5.6% annual growth and 60% of the population already in urban areas. There is a high risk of disease due to failure of sanitation facilities to keep up with this growth.
The WASH Working Group said the poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) apportioned 143.5 million for the water, sanitation and hygiene aspect, but Up to 2009 only 53.5 million was committed by both government and donors, and that up to the fiscal period 2009/2010 only 0.25% of the national budget spending was apportioned for water, sanitation and hygiene programs in three ministries and one public corporation.
With respect to the Matchers and Purpose of the Match, the Group said the walk was in support of several other walks that happened at the same time around the world on Tuesday, 22, March 2011. The purpose of the walk was to highlight and bring to the attention of world leaders, policy makers and development partners the long social and economic challenges faced on a daily basic by the population due to lack of access to save drinking water and improved sanitation.
The walk internationally assembled over 300,000 people and organized by WaterAid, End Water Poverty, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), etc. In Liberia, the walk brought together over 2000 people from slum communities, civil society, and professionals and was organized by a network of six local organizations including the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL), Concerned Christian Community (CCC), WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia (WASH RENL), Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia (CUPPADL), Liberia NGOs Network (LINNK) and Women National NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL).
The below are Requests to the President and Government from the members of the Liberia CSOs WASH Working WASH Working Group:
1. We approve and support the establishment of a Water Supply and Sanitation Commission as a means of improving sector coordination and decision-making however, we want the government accelerate its action and encourage sector players to support financing to facilitate full establishment, equipment and operation of the commission;
2. We applaud your government and development partners for developing Integrated Water Resource Management and Water Supply and Sanitation Policies, however, to enhance long term sustainability and legal status to those policies, we challenge the executive to submit these policies to the Legislature for enactment into law;
3. We command Liberia signing onto the eThequini Declaration which calls for all governments to allot at least 0.5% of their GDP to sanitation service delivery. In the same vein, we the petitioners challenge your government to begin taking steps aim at living up to the 0.5% demand. To do this and to enhance independent tracking, monitoring and evaluation of WASH public financing, we request clear water, sanitation and hygiene lines in the 2011/2012 National Budget;
4. In an effort to breach the financing gap facing the sector, your Excellency, we call on your government to increase water, sanitation and hygiene appropriation in the National Budget from 0.25% up to 2009/2010 fiscal period to at least 3% in the 2011/2012 fiscal period. Also we call on the government to encourage private sector investment in the sector through cooperate social responsibility as well as increase donor aid flow to the sector through the setting-up of pull funds like is done in the case of other social services sectors such as education, malaria, TB, Aids etc;
5. Your Excellency it was reported in the Buchanan Cabinet PRS Retreat by the Honourable Hu-Bun Tulay, former Liberia Water and Sewage Cooperation Managing Director that several PRS water, sanitation and Hygiene deliverables had to be abandon due to change of strategy to community Lead Total Sanitation (CLTs) and that the abandon deliverables will be substituted with CLTs. To date, Madam President, CLTS still remain a theory, as a means of accelerating CLTS approach in the country, we call for the establishment of National CLTS Task Force that is inclusive of INGOs, Civil Society, Government Agencies and ministries and coordinated by one of the water, sanitation and hygiene ministries department. Also madam president, we believe it will be helpful to sub divide the country into four regions and assign INGOs and Local NGOs applying CLTs by region to avoid duplication, the over service and under serving of some population thereby promoting national ownership of the CLTS approach;
6. Your Excellency, Madam President, we call on your government to ensure the full participation of water, sanitation and hygiene focus civil society and local NGOs in all stages of the National Visioning Exercise. It is also our anticipation that the New National Vision that will take after the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) will place WASH in its top agenda as the beginning of strong commitment to addressing the WASH needs of the population.