The Evangelical Children Rehabilitation Program (ECREP), a local NGO working in South-eastern Liberia has completed the construction of several latrine and hand pump facilities in ten public and private schools in Grand Gedeh County.
The schools with combined population of at least 11,000 students have been in dire need of the constructed facilities, which were turned over to the various schools on January 17, 2013. UNICEF sponsored the construction.
Speaking to the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia recently following the official turn-over ceremonies, the Chief Executive Officer of CREP, G. Abraham Powell, said they are presently working in Gbarzohn and Tchien Districts of the county.
Powell said over the past seven months ECREP has been constructing latrines and hand pumps and at the same time establishing and training health club members in the various schools.
According to him, ECREP trained 25 students in health hygiene promotion and hand washing, and they can ably take care of their respective campuses and environment in a clean and healthy manner.
Powell said ECREP has constructed 31 cubicles of latrines in 5 schools. They are the Sunhill Elementary & Jr. High School, Zwedru Methodist Elementary School, Myers Elementary School, Tian Elementary School, and Toe Memorial Elementary School.
He pointed out that ECREP has also turned over two newly hand-dug wells (hand pumps) constructed at the Tian Elementary School, and Sunhill Elementary School.
According to him, his organization is rehabilitating a latrine at the Tubman Memorial Institute in Tchien District and 250 students have already been trained in basic health and good hygiene practices.
ECREP's intervention in Grand Gedeh County is directed under the "School WASH Program" sponsored by UNICEF.
UNICEF was present at the official turning over ceremony and applauded the work and services of ECREP.
Mr. Powell said one major reasons that led to their intervention in Grand Gedeh is the situation of WASH activities in the various schools.
According to him, most of the schools don't have latrine and safe water facilities, resulting to students and others taking the risk by going into the bushes especially to defecate and fetch unsafe water. He said this situation usually leads to diarrhea and other water-related diseases.
Powell pointed out that there are so many needs of the various schools and communities that lack access to safe drinking water and latrine facilities, and pledged his Organization's preparedness, with the support of others to intervene.
"We have a qualified staff to implement WASH activities," Powell asserted. He commanded UNICEF for the support and called on others to emulate similar good example to address crucial WASH problems in the South-eastern Region which comprises of Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Rivercess Counties.
Powell also named the lack of good roads as one of the major challenges facing implementation of projects in the South-east. "The roads are so bad during the rainy season, thereby impeding transportation and service delivery," ECREP C.E.O asserted.
He appealed to the government to prioritize the rehabilitation and construction of roads during the dry season, to ensure easy access to especially counties in the South-east.
The ECREP Chief Executive Officer also urged local residents to change their mindset and always strive to remain supportive of community initiatives in the interest of development.