8 February 2013

Liberia: Support the WASH Development Plan - Public Works Ministry Urges

The Acting Minister of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) Hon. Victor Smith has underscored the need for the Government of Liberia and her development partners to fully support the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Plan as a way of investing in the future of this life sustaining sector.

Speaking on behalf of MPW Minister Samuel Kofi Woods who is out of the country, the Deputy Minister for Technical Services Victor Smith said it is absolutely clear that raising the capacity of the sector to its pre-war status and developing it further will require significant resources over a period of time, but it is absolutely necessary to do so, so as to achieve a middle income economy by the year 2030.

According to the acting minister, in mid 2012 UNICEF funded the formulation of the Plan starting with a capacity needs assessment. "This exercise included the participation of a wide range of stakeholders including the Government of Liberia, civil society organizations, private media, education establishments and development partners covering a total of 171 people, and over 60 institutions, structures, organizations and programs.

He added: "the main focus of the capacity development plan is to build capacity for service delivery against the WASH sector Strategic Plan, which is a product of the Poverty Reduction Strategy ll and Vision 2030. In other words, the capacity development plan is the vehicle to drive needed investment in the sector. Additionally, the plan is in line with the Liberia National Capacity Development Strategy 2008-2018."

Minister Smith noted that major areas of intervention in the document include: 1) increasing the number and competences of staff, considering succession plans; 2) improving institutional systems and processes for strengthening the Government of Liberia leadership and effectiveness and 3) to strengthen the enabling environment all of which contribute to reducing support from external actors.

He said the plan proposes a mix of methodologies including educational upgrades, the development of sector specific block training courses with ongoing mentoring and practice, scholarships and internships and the development of processes and systems to increase output.

According to the MPW acting boss, a key recommendation from the Plan is that funding should be sought to engage a dedicated WASJH capacity Development and it is also proposed that the WASH Plan be monitored on an annual basis.

"Total budget for Plan is estimated at US$74m which incorporates activities including operational costs of some key Government of Liberia bureaux, divisions and teams at national and sub-national levels, and costs of a number of pilot projects." he said.

Minister Smith defined the WASH Sector Capacity Development Plan as an important policy instrument provided for in the WASH Sector Strategic Plan of 2012 to 2017, and the Liberia WASH Compact of 2011 that was signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In a statement, the World Bank Representative Dominick dee Waal said the Sector Investment Plan (SIP) that was being launched is a guide to all investors in the Liberia WASH sector, adding that the SIP breaks down the high-level targets set6 in the Agenda for Transformation into key WASH investment projects, associated costs and time scales required to improve coverage across urban and rural Liberia.

He said the SIP builds on existing high quality data sources including the national water point mapping exercise led by the ministry of Public works in 2011, with the resulting water point atlas providing data on location and functionality of water points across Liberia, ensuring both a high level of accuracy in the estimated investment requirements with planned investment matching with needs across the country.

He said the installation of the pumps for the booster stations is ongoing and the pump for the treatment plant is expected in the country before April of this year. It is estimated that US$400m is required to meet the WASH targets to ensure that 93% of the Monrovia population access water by 2017.

Remarks were also made by the U.S Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac, Outgoing UNICEF Country Director, the Head of the African Development Bank in Liberia and the proxies of the ministers of Finance, Lands Mines and Energy.

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