Liberia to Benefit US$50M in Support to Water and Sanitation

Jerry Gaye

The Liberian delegation at the ongoing 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal has disclosed that the country will get US$50 million out of the 1.8 billion gifted by the United States Government to twenty-one countries across the world. 

About 15 countries in Africa are expected to get their share of the goodwill by the US Government according to the Liberian delegation. 

Liberia has abundant water resources, but close to 90% of its population has limited access to safe drinking water Abundant in rivers, rainforests, mangroves, and swamps, Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world. But it lacks infrastructure and services to reach everyone with safe drinking water.

All in all, less than 10 per cent of Liberians have access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services, according to the JMP 2017. Securing access to safe water and adequate sanitation for all would go a long way in reducing infection, disease and death.

Sanitation is very poor, with the vast majority of people in rural areas lacking decent toilets and latrines, and having to defecate in the open instead. About 42 percent of Liberia's population practices open defecation according to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 (JMP 2017).

And in a a live conversation from Darkar Liberia Water, Sanitation and Hygiene CEO Bobby Whitfield, said at the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the African Ministers Council on Water, it was disclosed to the world that the United States Government has put aside 1.8 billion dollars for water support for 21 countries around the world.

Out of these 21 countries, 15 are in Africa and one of those countries to benefit is Liberia. We now got a sense that 15 million is being put together for Liberians for five years as a priority country for Water and Sanitation support”. Mr. Whitfield added that the Liberian government and its partners are now in the process of strategizing policies for the usage of the money to achieve its intended purpose. 

The World Water Forum is the world's largest event on water and sanitation and was first organized in 1996 to put together a collective action plan during and after each Forum. The 9th Forum is the first to be hosted in sub-Saharan Africa. The forum brings together participants from all levels and areas, including politics, multilateral institutions, academia, civil society and the private sector, among others. The Forum provides a unique platform where the international water community and key decision makers can collaborate and make long-term plans and progress on global water challenges.

Over the years, the number of people participating in the Forum has grown from a few hundred to tens of thousands, from both the international community and host countries.

The Liberian delegation headed by Water, Sanitation and Hygiene CEO, Bobby Whitfield on Wednesday made a separate presentation on Liberia’s challenges in dealing with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene issues. The delegation’s separate presentations highlighted key priority issues including the provision of safe and clean drinking water for rural communities and efforts to end open defecation by 2025. 

Liberia’s WASH Legislative Caucus Co-chair, Representative Vicent Willie, a member of the Liberian delegation to the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, also added that the provision of water for rural areas as one of the key areas highlighted by the delegation will boost the sector and take Liberians out of poverty.

“In Liberia right there, you are aware that people are still drinking from creeks, so we want to ensure that we can give everyone access to pipe borne water or at least those basic services where we will have the hand pumps available for people to have access”, he added.

According to him, rural areas in Liberia and Africa are the most affected places to access safe drinking water and he is hopeful that his colleagues at the Forum will have a consideration.

Liberia, as one of the few countries in the world to introduce the WASH Legislative Caucus, according Representative Vicente the forum was also informed about the Liberia WASH Legislative Caucus formation, challenges and success stories since it was introduced at the Legislator. Representative Willie added that after telling the world about the workings of the Liberia WASH Legislative Caucus, parliamentarians at the Senegal’s Forum agreed to formulate a policy and launch a WASH Legislative Handbook to be used by the Global WASH Parliament. He said the WASH Legislative Handbook will be used like in the case of the ECOWAS Parliament to foster activities of the WASH Sector across the globe.

Liberia’s success story according to the Grand Bassa County District #4 Lawmaker was applauded by parliamentarians across the world as they intend to build on what Liberia presented at the Forum.            

Recently Liberia’s WASH Sector had an intensive and interactive brain storming exercise in Gbangar, Bong County relative to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector. Participants dominantly Superintendents, relevant stakeholders in the sector as well as Civil Society organizations jointly pen down their signatures to mark the official signing of Gbarnga 2022 declaration to end open defection in Liberia by 2025.

The fourteen counts declaration among other things highlighted that a dedicated staff be designated by the County Superintendent as focal person in the County that County Superintendents advocate with their legislative caucuses and other stakeholders to allocate about 5% of funding for sub National level for the implementation of the Liberia ending open defecation roadmap 2025.

To reflect a holistic approach, the declaration also calls for active engagements from government organizations, political parties, civil society organizations, workers, teachers, the media, transport unions as well as security agencies and etc. on the CHATWASH Movement to play an instrumental role in carrying forward Sanitation and Hygiene promotion as a social movement.