To Protect Our Children from Disease and Death, Restore the Beach, Waterways Project

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There are distinctly five parts of the Liberian government to which we are appealing to ensure that the Beach and Waterways Project, cancelled on Tuesday by the Ministry of Finance, be restored—and there are five reasons why.

The five parts of the government are first, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the prime part of GOL which is chiefly responsible to keep the nation healthy. Everyone in that Ministry, from the Minister and the Chief Medical Officer on down, knows that clean neighborhoods, workplaces and the entire environment are the very basis of a healthy nation. Remember, one of the important reasons we were able to drive Ebola away was because the people listened to the Health Ministry and washed their hands, cleaned their yards and neighborhoods and followed all the other preventive measures.

So we strongly feel that the MOH must do everything in its power to work with the rest of the government to ensure that these beach and waterways workers return to work. Can some of the Ebola money left go toward accomplishing this objective?
Second, the Liberia Maritime Authority, which first envisioned the project, in order to help President Sirleaf achieve her goal to make Liberia a “maritime nation.” Commissioner Binyah Kesselly did well to initiate the project by making available some of the

Maritime money to do so. We do not know how the Finance Ministry got to do the payments. Perhaps the time has come for Maritime to handle its own money and contribute to the government’s budget as it is able.

Thirdly, we appeal to Finance Minister Amara Konneh to change his mind about this project. He should restore the project and work with Maritime and the Ministry of Health in finding the money to keep the beach and waterways workers engaged.

At this stage in our history when we have just, by the grace of God, rid ourselves of a deadly virus we cannot afford to be penny wise and pound foolish. We know for sure the consequences of giving our people the greenlight to defecate on the beaches. You are asking for a plethora of deadly diseases that will affect not only children in these slum communities but everybody else. These diseases include malaria, which is already killing many of our children weekly, cholera, diarrhea, dengue fever, ringworm and typhoid. If we do not know how common and real these diseases are, ask any clinic around Monrovia about the statistics. So what Finance thinks it will save on stopping the beach and waterways cleaning project, government will spend a thousand times more on PREVENTABLE illnesses afflicting our children and people. For example, do the math on the Ebola response cost.

More besides, what about the children who could die from these diseases–there go your people who could have become your teachers, healthcare workers, engineers, technicians and even your presidents—yes, we are talking of risking the diminishing of our HUMAN CAPITAL!

Fourth, we appeal to the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) to get involved, for after all it is responsible for providing our water, which is a key factor in maintaining our toilets and washing facilities, which are fundamental to the nation’s health and sanitation.

Finally, we appeal to our leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is chiefly responsible to ensure the delivery and protection of life, liberty and happiness in our country. She is also the Chief Executive, whose word is gold. She has declared that she wants to make Liberia a “maritime nation,” and keeping our beaches clean, healthy and attractive is one of the first steps in the attainment of that objective.

Beyond the objective of a maritime nation, the President has also spoken of helping make Liberia a tourist nation. The first place to begin is with health and sanitation, especially through the neighborhoods and on the beaches. No tourist will spend his or her money to visit a dirty country or feces-polluted beaches and get sick. In other countries, including little Gambia, thousands of tourists flock there throughout the year to bask in the sun on their beautiful and sprawling beaches.

Let us begin by encouraging our own people to start visiting our beaches—all of them—not just the beaches in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, to which hundreds of expatriates flock every weekend to relax and enjoy themselves.

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