In April 2023, a delegation comprising Welthungerhilfe staff (Mr. Hubert Charles, Country Director, Mr. Lyndon Gibson, Head of Partnership Development & Liaison/Interim Head of Project (1057) and Mr. Abraham Nyorkor, Head of Communications), a representative from the German Development Bank- KfW (Ms. Hannah Detmering-Segoin), and representatives from Ministry of Health (Dr. Francis Kateh, Chief Medical Officer/Deputy Minister of Health), Ministry of Public Works (Mr. Michael Yennego, Director of National Housing, Mr. Ericson Payne, Assistant to the Deputy Minister) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (Mr. Alfred Jardiah, Director of the NGO Coordination Unit) completed a joint monitoring visit of KfW-funded projects, implemented by WHH, in southeast Liberia. The visit was intended to assess the quality of infrastructure funded by KfW, the extent to which the communities are using and maintaining them, and their impact on the lives and livelihoods of the communities.
On 25th April, the Deputy Minister of Health/Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, together with the Rivercess County Health Team, joined staff of Welthungerhilfe and KfW toured the 80-bed Rivercess County Referral Hospital constructed by Welthungerhilfe in Gbediah, Nyorwein District, Rivercess County.
The hospital contains a modern operating theatre, external triage, modern laboratory, waste management facilities, modern mortuary, six houses to accommodate the hospital staff, surgical and medical wards, accident and emergency unit, and offices for doctors and nurses. Other facilities include a running water system and a 70 Kilowatt /56KVA solar system that provides 24-hour electricity to the hospital.
The Rivercess County Referral Hospital was officially commissioned on November 24, 2021, by the Minister of Health. According to Dr. Joseph N. Topor, Rivercess County Health Officer, when it is fully operational, it will provide quality health services to over 90,000 inhabitants of Rivercess and the neighboring counties (Grand Bassa and Sinoe).
The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Nathanial Samuel, informed the delegation that over 140 successful surgeries have been conducted at the hospital since it started operation in October 2022. In addition, over 100 babies were delivered with support from a network of medical doctors (volunteers) from the Ministry of Health. The hospital has also carried out two community outreach activities aimed at encouraging people in the nearby towns and villages to use the facilities at the hospital and to carry out immunization.
“The medical outreach activities by the hospital across the thirteen catchment communities have attracted people to the hospital, especially those with chronic health issues” an elder of the community, Trokon Browne, told the delegation.
The KfW representative, Ms. Hannah Detmering-Segoin, was impressed after inspecting the hospital in operation. “The active use of the hospital makes me so happy as it shows how the German taxpayers' money is working to help communities in Liberia” Hannah said.
The work of KfW and Welthungerhilfe has practically ended at the Rivercess County Referral Hospital, however continuous monitoring of activities at the hospital is critical for ensuring that the provision of health services is sustained and the hospital facilities well managed. Making remarks at the hospital, the Country Director of Welthungerhilfe, Hubert Charles, challenged the community to take ownership of the hospital “If you take good care of this hospital, your children and the next generation will continue to have access to good health care and good health” he said. Welthungerhilfe is currently working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to ensure that legislators allocate adequate budget to sustain the operations of the hospital as per the agreement with the Government of Germany. This includes the provision of a 150 KVA generation to serve as a backup power source for the solar panels and operation of the X-Ray facilities.
On 27th April, the delegation visited activities related to the Reintegration and Recovery Programme Phase Five (RRPV) in Southeast Liberia. The RRPV Programme commenced in January 2018 and has over the years supported infrastructure development, agriculture, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and women’s empowerment in Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland counties. These counties have the lowest development indices, lack basic infrastructure such as access roads to markets and hospitals. The living condition of the population in this part of Liberia is deplorable especially during the rainy season (May to September) when all roads leading to this region are impassable and the communities isolated. The RRPV programme was developed to mitigate the impact of these challenges. From 2018 to date, Welthungerhilfe has constructed eighteen bridges, fifty-six 90cm culverts and twelve double box culverts in Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties linking hundreds of thousands of people to markets and health services.
Motorcycle taxis are the easiest means of movement from Janzon to the border of Côte d'Ivoire in Grand Gedeh County. However, overgrown vegetation and poorly maintained bridges make movement very difficult for farmers and traders, especially during the rainy season. To mitigate the impact of this problem, Welthungerhilfe contracted the Lofa Integrated Development Association (LIDA) who recruited youths of Janzon into Community Base Organizations (CBOs). These CBOs are now actively building and maintaining the two motorcycle tracks (7 meter & 2 meter) in Janzon. The delegation, on 27th April, visited the 7-meter Motorcycle Track in the town of Janzon. This motorcycle track connects 17 villages along the road leading to the Liberia - Côte d'Ivoire border. The track is making movement convenient for farmers to transport their farm produce to the market, and to transport sick and pregnant women to the health center.
The delegation took a ride along the 52 KM Ziah Town Road Axis in Konobo District to assess the results of WHH’s rehabilitation of the road, and the application of Pure Crete (moisturizing stabilizing materials) on a road that was impossible to travel on a few months earlier. Since the maintenance of the road, it has become a major transit route for farmers and traders travelling between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.
In Konobo District, the delegation travelled to Bilibo Town and was able to see four bridges (12m, 14m, 20m and a redocked bridge) in addition to four box culverts constructed along the road. Welthungerhilfe has been supporting farmers in Bilibo who are processing cassava products and growing vegetables but have been unable to get their produce to the market due to poor road conditions. The construction of these bridges and culverts is now enabling farmers to access the market to sell their produce. They have in turn increased their production to take advantage of the increase in demand and increase their earnings.
On 30th April, the delegation travelled to Feloken, Maryland County, where they were warmly received by a huge crowd of villagers, and religious and traditional leaders. “Since the establishment of Feloken Town 113 years ago, we have been using unreliable logs to cross the main river connecting Feloken with other commercial towns. Today, knowing that we have a modern bridge in our town and a market being built for our people, makes us so happy” said one of the Elders of Feloken. WHH is working together with the Ministry of Public Works and the local authority of Maryland County for the official handing over of the 22-meter bridge and market hall in Feloken Town.