The local Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) advocacy group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has called on the government to make good on its promise to establish a WASH commission.
The United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency and Development said WASH is “very fragmented and needs a WASH commission that will oversee and coordinate a centralized sector.”
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Timothy Kpeh, the Executive Director of the group, said a majority of the ministries and agencies have WASH programs.
The Ministry of Finance allocated a budget to all of the WASH activities for all ministries and agencies, he disclosed, adding, “This funding, when provided by the Ministry, will enable many government offices to depend on each other to implement the WASH program. As a result not much is being done in the absence of the WASH Commission that is yet to be established.”
Liberia joined countries around the world to celebrate Global Hand Washing Day. During the program, citizens across the country decided to remind the government to implement the WASH Compact, which was signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to address good governance in the sector.
He noted that while demanding the implementation of the document that will ensure sustainability, transparency and accountability by establishing a WASH Commission, the citizens should see the importance of the initiative because it promotes human rights.
The WASH project, he said, is supporting the establishment of a national Water Supply and Sanitation Commission (WSSC) or the regulatory agency.
The WSSC is the regulatory agency that should be responsible for regulation of tariffs, licenses, Public Private Partnerships, service standards and water laws compliance to ensure that water and sanitation services are provided in an efficient, fair and sustainable manner.
There are currently only limited standards for governing the regulatory aspect of water and sanitation services in Liberia, with no licenses for the sector supply and no coordinated service standards by which to monitor and regulate service delivery.
“Water laws need to be developed as there are competing users for water. This is especially important in a country that is evolving from conflict. Water that used to be accessed by simply digging or drilling a well anywhere needs to be accounted for and equitably distributed in order to mitigate conflict and to support development,” Mr. Kpeh urged.
He asserted that the absence of a functioning regulatory agency has led to continued fragmentation of roles and responsibilities within the sector, and has stifled the development of a vibrant private sector in water and sanitation services.
In January 2012 President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the Liberia WASH Compact that was developed as a result of the Joint Mission held in Monrovia in April 2011, supported by the government and the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership.
The program started in 2011, with support from the Basque Water Agency (URA), and the immediate priority for the sector was getting the Liberia WASH Compact developed.
Since then, the program has focused on supporting sector coordination and the establishment of a national regulatory agency, the WSSC.