Gov’t Urged to Play Leadership Role in WASH Sector

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NPHIL director, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah

Begins 2-day JSR review process in Buchanan

Tolbert Nyenswah, Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), has urged the government to play the leadership role in ensuring good water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy in the country.

Mr. Nyenswah made the statement on Thursday, May 10, at the start of a two-day Joint Sector Review (JSR) process of the WASH sector in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

He said the government must support the WASH sector through the National Budget that will enhance the work of the sector.

Accordingly, Mr. Nyenswah urged President George Weah to name a WASH Commissioner to drive issues of the sector forward.

“Safe drinking water and hygiene services can help us to save more money. As you are all aware, WASH services were a key component in ending Ebola,” said Nyenswah.

Nyenswah, a former Deputy Minister for Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, also stressed the need for a community-led WASH initiative that will highlight issues of WASH at the community level.

Dr. Kamrul Islam, Chief of Child Survival and Development of UNICEF reaffirmed UNICEF’s support to the WASH sector of the country.

Dr. Islam believes that increased access in the WASH sector is critical to the development of Liberia, noting that no country can develop without a proper WASH policy.

“UNICEF is a long-time partner of the Government of Liberia and the WASH sustainability compact,” he stated.

A cross-section of stakeholders in Buchanan at the conference

In remarks, the Senior Advisor of Health and WASH at Irish Aid, Madam Teta Lincoln, said good governance, partnership, and sector coordination are key to a successful implementation in the WASH sector.

Madam Lincoln pointed out that a substantial long-term commitment from the government is needed, stressing that strengthening domestic resource mobilization as well as a multi-stakeholder partnership that includes the private sector will be crucial to answering the many complicated questions in the WASH sector.

“We would like to use this opportunity to join the many voices advocating for the appointment of WASH Commissioner, budget allocation and activation of the WASH board, where key questions and decisions can be analyzed,” she said.

Meanwhile, the JSR of the WASH sector is intended for stakeholders to discuss progress, and decide on the best way forward for the sector.

The 2018 JSR is of great significance to the country, as the nation failed to achieve its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for improved water and sanitation access in 2015.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in their 2017 reports indicated that access to improved water sources has risen from 62.4% in 2000 to 76.5% in 2015 nationally, but less than 4% of Liberians benefit from pipe-borne water and only 17% of the population has access to improved sanitation.

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