6 February 2013

Liberia: 'Water Is Critical to Development' - Says Tolbert Nyenswa

The Assistant Minister for Preventive Services and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) has underscored the importance of quality water as a source of national development.

Speaking to journalists at the launch of the 'Joint Water Sector Review, Investment and Capacity Development Plan' now taking place at the SK Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville from February 5th to 7th, 2013, the MOHSW Assistant Minister said there are lots of water related diseases.

He noted that the workshop will cover the implementation of the Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) strategic plan to be addressed in the year 2013. He added that the water and sanitation sector is critical because water is needed by people in villages and communities to prevent diseases.

According to Minister Nyenswa, during the course of the workshop many presentations will be made on the status of urban and rural water supplies in the country as well as rural and urban sanitation and hygiene. He named cholera and diarrhea as common diseases as a result of the lack of pure and clean drinking water.

He said the meeting is about discouraging open defecation by encouraging the digging of more latrines across the country, adding that it is the mandate of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation to provide safe drinking water. "We are reviewing the entire water sector for the year 2013 so that Liberia will be a model in Africa on quality water management," he said.

Mr. Nyenswa observed that the sector has ensured putting in place cost effective mechanisms to avert diseases among Liberia's refugee population, especially Ivorian refugees in the Eastern part of the country and people going across the country's borders.

He said information sharing, training in health and hygiene have been carried out in most counties while health promotion materials have been widely disseminated which are clear opportunities that exist. He expressed the need for those target objectives not met to be carried forward as part of the 2013 activities.

In his presentation, a representative of the Ministry of Public Works said 'we believe strongly at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) that at the end of the conference, participants will be able to analyze the challenges and priority activities of the water sector in the year 2013'.

He added that they will be reviewing the capacity development plan formulated by UNICEF and other development partners including technical targets from various ministries, donor agencies and private sector NGOs in the country. "The launching will be an event that will include a wide range of institutions and stakeholders concerned with planning the 2014 - 2017 Water Sector Plan," he said.

It is estimated that access to water is only 66% in rural Liberia and 65% in urban areas although the quality of the water remains a challenge. "The majority of the people only access surface water sources.

Quality of water is not only a challenge but only 66% in rural areas access sanitation and 67% in urban areas access sanitation as even schools do not have adequate sanitation facilities," he noted.

He expressed the hope that documents and the level of the implementation of water and sanitation projects will be improved upon.

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