LIBERIA: LWI Declares 6 Communities Open Defecation Free

…Promises to Install Hand Pumps in Communities – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – Government of Liberia Community Led Total Sanitation Campaign is gaining momentum as both local and International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Partners are vigorously implementing this strategy across the country.

Country Director of Living Water International-Liberia, Mr. Kanyata Mekelabai

Country Director of Living Water International-Liberia, Mr. Kanyata Mekelabai

Materials provided the 6 Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities by LWI-Liberia to enhance Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

Materials provided the 6 Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities by LWI-Liberia to enhance Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

One of the latrines constructed by Kangar Town residents, as part of efforts to reach ODF status

One of the latrines constructed by Kangar Town residents, as part of efforts to reach ODF status

Participants at the Community ODF Celebration in Kangar Town, Gigi District, Margibi County

Participants at the Community ODF Celebration in Kangar Town, Gigi District, Margibi County

One of the practices of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

One of the practices of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

As a medium of buttressing Government’s effort, an international Christian Charity, Living Water International has declared six communities in Gibi District, Margibi County Open Defecation Free (ODF).

The six communities were triggered in February this year by Living Water International (LWI-Liberia) and later validated by a team from the Ministries of Health & Social Welfare, Education, Agriculture, Public Works, Education and the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia.

Communities that obtained Open Defecation Free Status include: Kangar, Soko, Guinemu, Bawoa, Kenemu and Kono Towns in Gibi District, Margibi County.

An official program was held Friday to mark the six Communities Open Defecation Free (ODF) Celebration in Kangar Town, Margibi county.

Welcoming the guests at the colorful program, the Township Commissioner of Bolala Township in Gibi District, James Weedor, thanked Living Water International for the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Initiative.

Commissioner Weedor noted that the CLTS Initiative by Living Water International has restored the lost dignity of residents in the six communities.

He disclosed that residents will at all times support the Christian Charity in all of its undertakings in the County.

The Township Commissioner specifically praised Living Water International (LWI-Liberia) Hygiene Promoters for effectively conducting the triggering of the communities especially, the high level of commitment and persuasiveness deployed by them to make the communities reach ODF status.

Giving an overview of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Program on behalf of the Technical Steering Committee, Mr. Slvester Saryon who is also a WASH Coordinator at  the Ministry Public Works  disclosed that CLTS began in the county by the Community Development Services (CODES) in 2010.

“There was no follow-up to see whether the CLTS Program initiated by CODES was successful”, Mr. Sanyon added.

According to the Public Works Ministry WASH Coordinator, the Program “Community Led Total Sanitation was reintroduced in Gibi District in 2013 by Living Water International with a great success.

“The reintroduction of CLTS was captained by Living Water International, Ministries of Health, Public Works, Agriculture, Education and Liberia Institute for Geo Information Services (LISGIS)”, Mr. Sanyon noted

He said since the reintroduction of the process, Living Water has celebrated Towns meeting-up with ODF status.

According to him, the celebration was the second by Living Water International as a way of appreciating residents of towns that have met the criteria set by the Government of Liberia  Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Program.

Deputizing for Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Tolbert Nyenswa, the Director for Community Led Total Sanitation, George Worwoyoun said going Open Defecation Free is a task a community has to maintain such status.

Mr. Woryorwoun cautioned community residents to maintain the ODF status and not allow toilets constructed by them to be damaged or allow the effort of the Christian Charity to be a wasted one.

The Health Ministry CLTS Director used the occasion to challenge the residents to ensure they maintain an ODF status for a protracted period.

Mr. Woryorwoun also told residents that if they fail to maintain their status, Living Water International and its local partners will not retrigger them.

He also urged them to take the lead in ensuring that other communities in Gibi District are triggered by them to reach the status of Open Defecation Free.

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Party of Global Communities, an Institution implementing United States Agency for International Development (USAID)   Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program described sanitation as a key to life.

Mr. Leroy Johnson reminded communities obtaining Open Defecation Free status that it is a gigantic challenge to make sure they uphold their ODF status.

Mr. Johnson cautioned the communities to remain focused about their status and  to avoid circumstances that will carry them back to their old status.

He also encouraged the residents to involve traditional leaders, like the chiefs and zoes to play a more proactive role in the process of maintaining the ODF status.

For his part, the Country Director of Living Water International-Liberia said he was particularly impressed about the standards for sanitation and hygiene the communities have reached.

Mr. Kanyata Mekelabai described as encouraging, initiatives carried out by the residents to construct toilets in order to ensure that their communities are Open Defecation Free (ODF).

He said the quality of the toilets, hand washing facilities, clothes line and dish rocks the residents have made, is an indication that these communities will indeed work hard to maintain their status.

The Country Director of the Christian Charity revealed that the beauty of the facilities were erected after these towns were triggered by Living Water International and validated by the County’s WASH Technical Steering Committee.

According to him, from all indications and based on what he has seen, these communities prove that maintaining their ODF status will not be of much challenge.

When asked why his organization decided to be a part of the Community Led Total Sanitation Program, Mr. Mekelabai described the issue of sanitation and hygiene as a global issue, adding it is a national issue also in Liberia.

He disclosed that his group decided to play a more active role because the government sees CLTS as a  major strategy to bring about improved sanitation across the length and breadth of the country.

Mr. Mekelabai further disclosed that government sees CLTS as a vehicle through which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) can be achieved.

He said CLTS is also the entry point of development and it also reduces the risk of health related problems in any community.

LWI Country Director asserted that the communities have created an atmosphere in which  safe water can be provided and maintained by them.

Mr. Mekelabai assured that Living Water International will also ensure that hand pumps are constructed in all of the communities that where declared Open Defecation Free.

The second Community ODF Celebration by Living Water International (LWI-Liberia) was graced by local government authorities and partners in the WASH sector of Liberia with a colorful performance from a Culture troop from one of the schools in the District.

During the first Celebration in November last year, Living Water International Liberia certificated three communities in Margibi County for their efforts to reach Open Defecation Free status.

The three communities include Ambulah, Gaylaylah and Joe Vahn Towns in Gibi and Kakata Districts respectively. Five communities were triggered, three became ODF.

The certificates of Declaration awarded the three communities were signed by the Ministries of Health & Social Welfare, Public Works and the Living Water International-Liberia.

The new Open Defecation Free (ODF) communities are part of efforts to actualize the process of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) which sees improved sanitation as the path to development.