By: Augustine N. Myers-WASH R&E – The Month of March 2016 was globally celebrated as Water Action Month in an effort to push the world to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals.
2016 is set to be an exciting year for campaigning and advocacy on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), as this year marks the beginning of the new Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals), setting the development agenda until 2030.
Water Action Month is an opportunity to ignite and increase ‘the call’ for water accessibility, governance and accountability.
Water Action Month 2016 was successfully celebrated in Liberia and Sierra Leone with series of activities.
The commemoration started in Liberia with the official launch of Water Action Month by the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network in partnership with the British Charity, WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.
It was launched Thursday, March 10, 2016 under the theme: “End Water Shortage and Governance Challenges Now”.
The launch of Water Action Month was part of series of activities in commemoration of World Water Day, annually celebrated on March 22.
The Day was set aside by the United Nations to highlight the plight many are encountering in the world and to find solutions to water crisis faced by millions.
The launch of “Water Action Month” also witnessed the release of an Assessment Report on WASH In Schools and Health Centers.
Well, in observance of March as Water Action Month, the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network also embarked on series of activities.
The group staged number of sit in actions at key government Ministries and Agencies that have some oversight when it comes to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Liberia.
The Sit in actions by the WASH CSOs took place at the Ministries of Public Works, Education, and Governance Commission.
Members of the group were seen wearing t-shirts and caring placards with the inscriptions “End water shortage and governance challenges now”, “Take bold action to ensure access to water and sanitation”, “Safe drinking water is a fundamental right to every human being”, “Establish the WASH Board now”, and “Water is Life, Sanitation is dignity”, among others
At the Governance Commission which is in charge of providing governance direction and assisting in the governance reform efforts in Liberia, the WASH campaigners said they were awaiting the opinion of the Commission to commence practical action in moving the sector forward
The CSOs called on the Commission to complete the review of the materials submitted by the
Public Works Ministry and advance the appropriate recommendations to President Sirleaf for immediate actions.
At the Public Works Ministry, the water campaigners presenting a petition to Deputy Public Works Deputy Minister and called on the leadership of the Ministry to keep their promises in taking action to end water and sanitation crisis.
They also called on the leadership of the Ministry to accelerate action towards providing sanitation, water for all while improving governance.
The campaigners also want the Public Works Ministry ensure its Budget Department increases WASH allocation and also ensure separation budget lines for water and sanitation.
Responding to the petition of the WASH CSOs, Deputy Public Works Minister for Community Services and Rural Development said the government through the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has attached importance to the provision of safe drinking water to the population of Liberia.
Deputy Minister Jackson Paye asserted that the government has put in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure that citizens have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.
Similar sit in action took place at the Health Ministry during the month.
The WASH CSOs reminded government of several commitments made to improve the WASH sector of the country, which include access to safe drinking water and improve sanitation, establishment of a National Water Resource and Sanitation Board, and Issue Executive Order to establish a Water and Sanitation Commission, among others.
Meanwhile, the Liberia WASH Consortium, as part of its Awareness Strategy concluded activities marking Water Action Month, as part of the official celebration of World Water Day, March 22, 2016.
The activities were held in Greenville, Sinoe County in collaboration with its local Partner, the county administration, student community and the residents.
Also, as part of Water Action Month and World Water Day 2016, a Christian charity, Living Water International-Liberia made good its promise to Open Defecation Free (ODF) communities.
Six rural communities in Margibi county including Gibi and Kakata Districts, covering Ambulai, Karnga and Kedemah Towns in Borlolah Township, Junkai and Woryan In Kakata District benefited from the provision of safe drinking water.
The communities with the help of Living Water International-Liberia successfully completed the process of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), verified and approved by the Liberian government and partners.
Well, Water Action Month coupled with World Water Day celebration was extended to Bo, Sierra Leone.
The official celebration marking World Water Day was held in partnership with WaterAid, the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Water Resources and other partners.
Sierra Leonean Water Resources Minister, Mamadou Mahigi served as key-note Speaker, and assured that his government remains committed to improve access to WASH services.
WaterAid was actively involved in the entire celebration marking Water Action Month, as part of World Water Day 2016 activities both in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
WaterAid Transboundary Pragramme also had it Partners’ Planning Meeting in Bo, Sierra Leone from March 21 to 25, 2016.
On World Water Day, WaterAid and Partners observed the Day, and at the close of the Day, took a group photo.