One of the world’s greatest challenges of providing 2.1 billion people access to safe drinking water was over the weekend the key point of focus as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commission celebrated, alongside other countries, the annual World Water Day.
At the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia, nearly five hundred persons from schools, the government, non-governmental organizations, communities, among others, unanimously agreed that now is time for all to support programs, be they governmental or private, to alleviate the challenge of people being unable to access safe drinking water.
Keynote speaker Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County promised of a better future for the WASH sector in the country.
He assured the WASH Commission of the Legislature’s support (in budgetary allotment) in the fiscal years ahead on the basis that water is a fundamental need for human existence.
“As we celebrate this day let it resonate in the ears of all of us that access to safe drinking water for all has become a major challenge to many communities in Liberia and solving the challenge can only be realized through a strong political will,” he said.
After a moment of silence for those who perhaps lost their lives due to the lack of safe drinking water, he said many babies are alive today because they got the first taste of safe drinking water. “I am also of the belief that, on the other hand, there are many babies and, in some cases, their mothers, who lost their lives because of the lack of safe drinking water,” he said.
Senator Kaipay, who chairs the Senate WASH Committee, said it is proven that every person uses at least twenty to fifty liters of clean and safe drinking water for several reasons other than just drinking.
He raised concern among several others that the WASH Commission should have a strong monitoring arm that should ensure that those producing water in plastic bags and bottles do their production under the best hygienic conditions.
“Some water sold around the country does not meet the appropriate standard for healthy living but we see on the plastics writings suggesting that they have been duly supervised by the ministry of Health and this is absolutely wrong,” he said.
With the theme of the occasion “Leave no one behind” in his mind, he noted that in order for the people in the rural areas, who are said to be of the larger population without access to clean and safe drinking water, Legislative Caucuses of counties should consider allotting some of their counties’ development funds to the provision of clean, safe, drinking water.
“In consultation with all other stakeholders in the usage of County Development Funds, it will be a worthy venture if all the Legislative Caucuses can direct some of the county development money to the construction of hand pumps/well for their people,” he said.
The Grand Bassa Senator said Liberia is blessed with regular seasonal rainfall and there are lots of mangrove swamps around the country but people are still finding it difficult to boast of clean, safe drinking water.
“I am confident that the Committee on WASH at the Senate will work with you, WASH Commission, to impress on the government for the political will in bringing about the necessary infrastructures and facilities and the finance to sustain the WASH programs run by government as partners strive to help too,” he said.
Rev. Karpay said due to the lack of clean and safe drinking water there have been reported outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea and cholera in the country.
Also making remarks, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Dempster Murray, said in order for the WASH sector to succeed in its drive, there must be strong policies and the will to implement them.
“There is no healthy and productive workforce when there is no clean and safe drinking water. The WASH Commission should not forget that there is a need to develop this thought with the desire to implement it. Build up your own team to make the needed impact in your communities,” Murray admonished.
The chief executive officer of WASHC, Bobby Whitefield, said robust actions are required to take Liberia from its current position of failure to provide safe drinking water to all to an appreciable level.
“It is recorded today 2.1 billion people have no safe drinking water worldwide. Knowing that we are a part of this number as a country, ours is to work hard so that everyone has access to safe drinking water by 2030,” Whitefield said.
According to the sustainable development goal number six, by 2030, every country around the world should succeed in providing its people clean and safe drinking water.
“I can proudly say to all that President George M. Weah is very supportive of our efforts to implement policies that will ensure that our people have access to clean, safe water for drinking and other activities, including the preparation of food,” he said.
He commended lawmakers Representatives Thomas Fallah, Acarous Gray, Munah Pelham Youngblood of Montserrado Electoral districts 5, 8 and 9 and Sinoe County Senator, Milton Teajay for giving support to the WASH Bill which was subsequently passed and is now enacted into law.
He also congratulated Water Aid and all other organizations who are cooperating with the WASH Commission in its strive to make Liberia a success story in providing clean and safe drinking water to all.