By David S. Menjor
As member states and partners gathered in Monrovia to deliberate on crucial issues pertaining to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the Country Representative of UNICEF has called on the continent to use its resources to provide and improve WASH services for its population.
Speaking at the 4th joint annual review meeting, Mr. Suleiman Braimoh said much is spent on fighting cholera, diarrhea, among many other preventable diseases in Africa and other parts of the world only because care is not being given to the improvement of people’s livelihoods through better and safe water provision as well as sanitation and hygiene.
“We also have challenges with the issue of sustainability and there is a haunting challenge and our inability to achieve the sanitation target,” Mr. Braimoh noted.
“According to the 2013 demographic and health survey, Liberia has only an estimated 4 percent of household designated facilities for hand washing,” he said, adding that only 19 percent of the rural population and 28 percent of urban dwellers have access to sanitation.
He said the vast majority of people living in Africa, particularly in the sub-region and the central parts of the continent, lack access to properly treated drinking water.
Also speaking, the Senior Advisor at WASH in the Netherlands, Mr. Dirk C. Van Ginhoven, said the sub-region, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, must work harder than ever before to reach other Sustainable Development Goals.
“Former US President Barack Obama used the words “Yes we can” to build confidence in his supporters that it is never too difficult to succeed in doing great things for the betterment of (your) country and the world in general,” Mr. Ginhoven said.
The Dutch civil engineer and social worker said politics in Africa has failed to address unemployment, migration, health, sanitation and hygiene and because of this poverty is on the rise; and the death toll continues to be shaped by uncontrolled and unimproved population growths, wars and health disasters.
“Migration is one of the key elements in determining the politics of a country or a region. Because people feel they lack access to healthy living, they don’t care to even take risks in migrating to other parts of the country or some other nations nearby in search of improved living conditions,” Mr. Ginhoven noted.
He pointed out that sex is abused worldwide and, as such, populations are growing faster than expected and certain zones are being targeted more for improved livelihoods.
“Revenues generated should be sustained and properly taken care of so that a nation’s economy can be saved from collapse. And considering that government will never have enough to cater to every basic need, it is good to tap into the capital markets such as telecommunication and technology,” he said.
“After World War I, Europeans succeeded in doing this and I am confident that you too, with whatever little universal support you get, can do it,” he said.
For his part, the Minister of Water Resources of Sierra Leone, Mr. Momodu E. Maligi, said he is ashamed of seeing Africans begging for help for almost everything.
“While we are appreciative of all the support we receive from our partners from abroad, we have to closely work together and cut down our huge begging spree,” Mr. Maligi said.
“We must hold ourselves accountable for the many flaws and absolute nothingness in some respect; and, not to forget, build strong institutions, mainly the finance sectors instead of individuals,” he said.
Liberia’s Public Works Minister Gyude Moore said no African political campaign has expressed the desire to target the poor state of living of the people simply due to lack of WASH.
According to him, high population in cities such as Monrovia places a tremendous pressure on the limited resources and accounts for the high cost of living.
“Monrovia, which is my home city, was primarily meant to host at most 400,000 persons but today it accounts for more than 1,000,000 of our country’s 4,000,000 citizens,” he said.
Also present at this March 6-11 review meeting held at a resort in Monrovia, are representatives from Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Holland, Nigeria, and host Liberia, among others.