By: Augustine N. Myers – Hundreds of Ivorian refugees in Nimba County have benefited from a consignment of relief items, valued over 135 thousand United States dollars.
The items were provided by the Lutheran Development Service in Liberia (LDS), a National Non Governmental Organization operating in the Country as the Development Arm of the Lutheran Church of Liberia.
Speaking to this paper over the week-end shortly after the entire distribution exercise in Karmplay, Nimba County, the Program Officer of the Lutheran Development Service in Liberia (LDS), Mrs. Bernice K. Womba, said the exercise was in continuation of a project started recently under the Action by Churches Together (ACT)-Alliance Project.
She said, LDS is a member of the ACT-Alliance of Liberia, and is working in collaboration with other members, including Finn-Church Aid, Lutheran Church in Liberia, and the Trauma Healing Program.
According to her, the ACT-Alliance helps refugees in times of emergency, and that the LDS as a member of the Alliance, has been supported by partner Churches abroad including the Danish Church Aid, Church of Sweden, and Evangelical Church of America, among others.
Mrs. Womba said, LDS has distributed non-food items to six populated towns in Nimba County, and that 155 Family Heads of Ivorian refugees and host communities have equally benefited.
She disclosed that similar distribution exercise took place last April in which over one thousand Family Heads benefited, representing at least five thousand family members.
Sixteen communities benefited from the first phase of the distribution exercise in April. They include Loguatuo # 1, Kpanplay, New Loguatuo, Kissiplay, Kenlay 1&2, Duoplay, and Yeaplay. Others are Youhnplay, Gbanplay, Zeanlay, Larpea 1&2, Karnplay, Dehvaplay and Duanplay.
She also said, there are plans to extend similar humanitarian services to other local communities paying host to Ivorian refugees, especially in the area of WATSAN, focusing on water and sanitation.
Mr. Womba said the WATSAN activities will primarily focus on the construction and rehabilitation of hand pump wells, and the provision of education on sanitation.
She further disclosed that Agriculture will be included in the activities to benefit the refugees and host communities, as part of efforts to ensure Food Security.
She commanded partners of the LDS for the continued support given the refuges and local communities, and assured that LDS remains committed to improving the welfare and conditions of the needy.
Each of the packages donated to the refugees and host communities included male and female clothing, and major house-hole utensils.
The individual family heads representing the refugees and host communities were seen with their respective package, each containing two buckets (one for drinking and the other for bathing), one dish pen, two sets of lappers and blouses for the women, half dozen of washing and bathing soap respectively, tooth brushes and tooth pastes, a set of two big towels and 12 small towels, trousers and shirts for the men and kids, a set of cooking pot, and five plates and cups respectively.
The distribution of the items to the refugees and host communities was coordinated by Mr. Vandi Kalon, LDS Focal Parson for the ACT-Alliance Project.
The refugees and host communities speaking through their respective leaders, commanded the Lutheran Development Service in Liberia (LDS) for the items and said it will go a long way in helping to meet their needs.
Mr. Thomas Wemenpieu Bouim, Mrs. Bettie Dahn and Mr. Goua Nou Zouo Nazaire, among others described the gesture of LDS as timely, and challenged others to emulate.
The refugees and host communities also appealed for more hand pump and latrine facilities.
According to them, the issue of save drinking water is of serious problem due to the lack of more hand pumps to cater to the growing population in Nimba County.
They also said the lack of more latrine facilities, is causing serious embarrassment and often exposes them to danger, because they are always in the nearby bushes trying to ease themselves. They described the lack of more latrines to the engagement of forced practice of open defecation, an act considered unacceptable.
The Lutheran Development Service in Liberia (LDS) has meanwhile expressed concern in the WATSAN needs of the Ivorian refugees and their respective host Communities, and promised it will seek support to urgently address the needs of the people.