…Several Key WASH Ministers Failed to Attend – The government of Liberia and Partners of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector have held the 3rd Annual Joint WASH Sector Review in Gbarnga city, Bong county.
The 3rd WASH Joint Sector Review which was held from July 15 to 16, 2015, however regrettably witnessed the absence of government Ministers with some WASH responsibilities.
These Ministers are from the Ministries of Public Works (Host), Finance & Development Planning, Health, Lands, Mines and Energy, Education and Gender & Social Protection, among others.
The Annual WASH Joint Sector Review was aimed at discussing several thematic areas in the sector, challenges, successes and failures with the intend of creating platforms for a way forward in addressing critical issues in the WASH sector of the country.
There were several presentations made by the government of Liberia and partners showing some level of achievements, challenges and prospects, so far.
Status reports were presented on several thematic areas including the establishment and strengthening institutional capacity to manage, expand and sustain Liberia WASH services, increase equitable access to environmentally friendly and sustainable water and sanitation services and promote hygiene change at scale.
Other areas include the establishment of information management systems and strengthen monitoring data collection, communication and sector engagement.
Reports also covered other areas like Liberia WASH Capacity Development Plan 2012-2017 and WASH Sector Investment Plan 2012-2017, among others.
Some thematic presentations were also made in the following areas:
Finance, WASH Sector Ebola Response, Urban Water Supply and Ebola Waste Management, Rural Water Access, Water Resources, and Solid Waste Management, among others.
Presentations were also made on Community-Led Total Sanitation (LCTS), Hygiene & WASH in Health Facilities, WASH in Schools, Gender, Coordination, Monitoring and Advocacy & Awareness.
This year’s Joint Sector Review showcased beneficiaries of WASH services delivered by both the government and international partners.
Several beneficiaries of the services praised the government and partners for the services provided, describing as efforts to ensure improved health and, as a way of educating them about WASH in their respective communities.
Welcoming Delegates at the 3rd Annual WASH Joint Sector Review, Bong County Superintendent, Selena Mappy thanked actors in the sector for selecting her county for the hosting of the Review.
Superintendent Mappy used the occasion to brief WASH players about challenges in some of the Districts and towns in Bong county undergoing due to lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
The Bong County Superintendent called on the government and partners to assist the county in addressing critical Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) problems in the county.
Speaking on behalf of Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development and Community Services, Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, George Yarngo, said the review of activities in the sector is geared towards strengthening the WASH sector.
Assistant Minister Yarngo noted that the review serves as a medium in highlighting activities from the past year, reviewing these activities and making decisions that will bring about improvement in the WASH sector.
In an interview with WASH Journalists in Gbarnga, several partners welcomed the hosting of the Joint Sector Review 2015, describing it as a way of accessing progress made in the sector and challenges that are still in the WASH sector.
The Program Policy Officer of WaterAid Liberia/Sierra Leone, Patience Zayzay, said the review of the sector is a way of allowing voices of other professionals in the sector to be heard.
Commenting on the role her organization has played and continues to play, Miss Zayzay noted that WaterAid was very instrumental in the constitution of the National Water Resource and Sanitation Board.
Pointing out achievements in the WASH sector, the Policy Officer of the British charity in Liberia named access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene practices as some of the tangibles her organization can boast about.
Miss Zayzay said WaterAid’s activities are mainly implemented by local and national Advocacy and Development Partners.
Also commenting on the holding of the 3rd JSR, the Senior Program Manager of Global Communities, Leroy Johnson, disclosed that Global Communities will continue to remain an active partner in the WASH sector.
Mr. Johnson said his institution (formerly CHF) was very instrumental in developing the Liberia WASH Compact, Sector Investment and Capacity Development Plans, amongst others.
He said the Joint Sector Review creates the platform where lessons learnt can be improved, and also brings about issues that serve as challenges.
Mr. Johnson noted that one of the critical issues that were raised at the gathering is making WASH a budget sector, adding when this is done, the issue of financial support to the sector will be addressed.
“JSR is healthy, it creates the platform, and learn lessons from the past.. it should not be an event, WASH needs to be a budget sector”, the Senior Program Manager of Global Communities concluded.
For her part, the Advocacy and Communications Coordinator of the Liberia WASH Consortium, Roberetta Rose, said the only way the sector can be upgraded to the level of a Ministry is when the issues of fragmentation is eliminated.
Miss Rose stressed the need for the WASH sector to transition from policy to budget sector, this way she believes funds will be raised for the sector.
The Liberia Consortium Advocacy and Communication Coordinator said the JSR-3 was an opportunity for actors in the sector to critique it and come up with a way forward for improvement.
For his part, Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, George Yarngo said he was happy for the holding of the 3rd Annual WASH Joint Sector Review.
According to him, the Review gives an opportunity for government and WASH partners to look at progress, challenges and prospects of the WASH sector.
Mr. Yarngo commanded Partners for their dedicated services to ensure the provision of access to improved WASH across the country.
He also commanded efforts of WASH Civil Society Organizations, including the Media Network for the robust and professional level of advocacy and awareness for the provision of improved WASH services.
At the end of the 3rd Annual WASH Joint Sector Review, several local and international institutions were appreciated by the government of Liberia for their immense contributions in the WASH sector.
The institutions were certificated and medals provided to some for the selfless work in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of the country.
Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, George Yarngo was certificated as “WASH Champion”.
Meanwhile, Delegates at the 3rd Annual WASH Joint Sector Review in Gbarnga, Bong county expressed dismay that Ministers and Members of the WASH Board failed to attend.
Their failure to attend was described as unacceptable and the lack of interest for WASH.
The Delegates want Ministers concerned to provide reasons for which they failed to attend such an important gathering with international donors coming as far as America and others countries to attend.