By: Augustine N. Myers – Media practitioners from the West African Sub-region have established a partnership to give more attention to water, sanitation and hygiene otherwise known as the WASH sector.
The partnership known as the West Africa WASH Journalists Network, was established in Accra, Ghana at the close of the first General Assembly which brought together thirteen Countries from the region.
The 3-day Assembly which was held from April 27-to-29, 2011, brought together media Executives, especially officials of National WASH Networks from Liberia, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Mali, Cameroon, Togo, Niger, Guinea, Ivory Coast.
Giving the opening address, the Head of WaterAid in West Africa (WAWA), described the initiative as a turning point in the WASH sector and commanded the participants for showing interest in the process.
Madam Mariame Dem welcomed the formation of the West Africa WASH Journalists Network and pointed out that in order to ensure that it succeeds, there should be key principles that must be strictly followed.
She named the commitment of an individual member and a member organization, as the surest way in transforming the WASH sector.
Madam Dem also called for Citizen’s engagement in WASH issues, which she considers critical in getting the water and sanitation agenda and the voices of the vulnerable, poor and those who are most affected. She wants the media prioritize the voices of the poor, so that their voices can heard.
According to her, the Sanitation sector has been left behind in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, and challenged the participants to ensure that all have access to WASH, because according to her, there can be no development with out solving out the water and sanitation crisis.
She also said though most Countries are meeting the MDGs for water, more countries are still lacking far behind in sanitation.
She at the same time urged the media to ensure that governments increase their respective budgets for the WASH sector and that they remain fully committed in their political will to ensure transformation in the sector.
Madam Den commanded West African Journalists for the exclusive interest in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and challenged them to remain focused in devoting media attention to the sector.
She called on the various National Networks, including those to be established to be committed and proactive and productive in the discharge of their responsibilities as WASH Media Practitioners.
The WAWA Head of WaterAid West African Region used the Republic of Liberia as a Case Study in encouraging the various National Networks to remain fully committed and productive.
The WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia is the newest formed WASH Media Network that is very proactive and productive.
The WASH R&E Network was launched on the 25th of February, 2011 with an initial membership of 50 media institutions across Liberia. Since then, the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia has been very active and continues to play its significant role in transforming the WASH sector of Liberia.
Though it has not received any source of funding, the General Membership of the Network in Liberia remains fully committed based on love and passion which individual members have attached to the Liberian WASH sector.
Madam Dem and others at the General Assembly of the West Africa WASH Journalists Network in Accra, commanded the WASH Reporters & Editor Network of Liberia for being an example to emulate.
Meanwhile, the General Assembly West Africa WASH Journalists Network formed its first leadership to steer the affairs of the Network for two years.
The Coordinating Committee include: Racine Kane-Coordinator, Dauda Troare-Partnership and Fund raising officer, Emelia Ennin-Focal person for water, François Amegnignon-Focal personal for Sanitation and Hygiene, Babalobi Babatope-General Secretary, Dede Celia-Information and Communications Officer, and Makéba Komlan-Treasurer
The secretariat of the West Africa WASH Journalists Network is expected to be in Accra, Ghana. WaterAid pledged its commitment to support the office, while Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and WaterAid have pledged their financial support to the Network for the remaining two and half years.