11 December 2012

Liberia: 'Gov't Has Failed to Act'

The Government of Liberia has reportedly failed to exert a strong political will to address the problem of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the country.

As a result of government's reported failure, poor sanitation and lack of access to safe drinking water continue to pose serious health threat to the population.

A group of seven civil society organizations operating in Liberia under the banner, "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Civil Society Organizations Network disclosed that government has failed to honor its commitments to ensure the provision of access to improved sanitation and safe drinking water in the country.

The Chairman of WASH, Prince Kreplah said since the compact was developed about two years now, government has miserably failed to exert a serious political will in ensuring the implementation for the sake of the population.

According to Mr. Kreplah, out of the 15 commitments listed in the compact by stakeholders in the WASH sector in Liberia, and endorsed by the Liberian government, not more than 11 have been achieved due to the low support of government.

He said besides the ones that have been achieved with assistance of donors, those under the Government of Liberia's supervision were yet to be implemented.

In the compact, Mr. Kreplah said the President is required to issue an Executive Order for the establishment of a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Commission, but she is yet to do so.

The government is also required to upgrade the Community Services Department at the Ministry of Public Works to the status of a bureau.

"The government is also supposed to constitute the National Water Resource and Sanitation Board, but it is yet to do so; these are enough reasons for us to say that it has failed to act," Kreplah indicated.

The CSOs WASH Network chairman noted that the refusal of the government to act in the interest of the citizens has lead to the WASH Compact's massive failure since 2011.

He called on media practitioners involved in reporting on WASH issues in the country to use the Freedom of Information law to investigate the government as to what is stopping the implementation of the compact, which is a critical document to provide roadmap for the survival of the population.

He told the WASH reporters to also apply the Freedom of Information Law to access detail expenditure plans.

Mr. Kreplah said access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation are human rights, and as such, government needs to honor its constitutional obligations through budgetary allocations.

According to the government's own Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) document, a little over 60 percent of the country's population has access to safe drinking water, only 14 percent has access to improved sanitation, 5 percent practice to safe hygiene.

Meanwhile, the World Bank Sanitation Program (WSP) report has also revealed that about 3,000 Liberians died each year from WASH related illnesses.

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