With Our Abundant Rainfall and Rivers, Why Are Our People Still Drinking Muddy Water?

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Liberia Water and Sewer (LWSC) Managing Director Charles Allen, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Managing Director Joe Mayah, Agriculture Minister (MOA) Florence Chenoweth, Public Works Minister (PW) Gyude Moore, Health Minister (MOH) Walter Gwenigale, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh and all other government Agency Heads who deal with the day-to-day livelihood of our people, need to read this Editorial—Why?

It is because their work is directly related to the Liberian people’s appreciation or lack of it, of this nation they call their own—Liberia. To this is directly related the question, what is the source of appreciation for and love of one’s own country? The crux of the matter is: can they receive a positive answer to the ancient human question: “What is in it for us?”

Yes, what is in Liberia for the people of Millsburg who, since the town’s founding in 1828, have never had a hand pump? Not until a Millsburg daughter, Joyce Raynes Ogunti, a Chicago nurse who, backed by her husband Vahnplah and friends, returned home and gave Millsburg its first hand pump in the town’s 87-year history!

Yet Millsburg is only a stone’s throw away from White Plains—the source of LWSC’s water!

This identical question—What is in it for us?—can be asked by the people of Malangai, in Bong County’s Zota District, who 50 years after their town’s founding, are still cooking and drinking from a muddy, disease-infested pond. The Daily Observer‘s front page story last Thursday showed in graphic detail the appalling source of drinking water for 1000 Malangaians.

We urge LWSC’s Allen to travel to Malangai as soon as possible and quickly relieve that community of the deprivation of safe drinking water. He should go equipped to install several hand pumps that will guarantee the residents safe water close to their dwellings. Although long overdue, the people will appreciate Mr. Allen—or whoever delivers to them year round clean water. The women and children, who are the chief water carriers of their families sometimes walking for a mile or so to fetch water from streams, rivers or a pond like Malangai’s, would be forever grateful for the relief of water spouting from nearby hand pumps.

Meanwhile LEC’s Mayah should take notice of what the persistent lack of cheap energy is doing to our forests and green vegetation. Large swathes of the country side are left with a seriously diminishing tree population due to the felling of trees everywhere to make charcoal for people’s household needs.

It is incumbent upon Mr. Mayah to make a far more robust demand for budgetary allotment to speed up the provision of cheap electricity to the nation. We must build more mini hydros. From its incipience 89 years ago Firestone has used hydro-electric power from the Farmington, only one of Liberia’s numerous rivers. Yet our government institutions, large and small businesses and dwellings remain tethered (tied) to generators which drain our resources and profits.

PW Minister Gyude Moore tours roads under construction but he also needs to visit other areas of the country, particularly this rainy season, and see for himself how the deplorable road conditions are affecting the people’s daily existence. He should then engage his own engineers and the Engineering Battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), buy the necessary equipment to build and maintain more roads throughout the country as PW did in the past.

We urge Agriculture Minister Chenoweth to also tour the country and see what our farmers need to grow and produce more food and send agricultural extension agents to encourage and guide farmers. The farmers would appreciate and love her and Liberia or that.

The Health Minister and coworkers should use the wonderful opportunity provided by our victory over Ebola to fix, once and for all, our healthcare delivery system. The Health Minister should disguise himself early one morning and go see what the hundreds of pregnant women and thousands of other patients go through daily at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center’s gate.

And finally, Minister Konneh should also travel the country and experience first-hand, our people’s living conditions and determine how he can more adequately fund the other officials to fulfill the crying needs of ordinary Liberians throughout the country. When his constant travels abroad to negotiate or sign agreements for funding do not trickle down to the ordinary people, how can they appreciate his or their government’s efforts?

If all these officials do what needs to be done to help improve our people’s livelihood, the people would appreciate and love them and their country, and Liberia would finally become a happy, peaceful place to live.

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