8 February 2013

Liberia Needs Clean Water, Sanitation

Photo: Liberia Government
President Sirleaf quenches the thirst of a child shortly after dedicating a water pump.

The general consensus among many is that the access of the Liberian population to safe, clean and pure drinking water is very poor. Liberians in most urban and rural communities and areas of the country rely on water-wells which very often lack the proper hygienic standards thereby putting the consuming population at a serious risk. There are also shortcomings in the level of urban and rural sanitation and hygienic standards and structures such as the construction of latrines.

According to an Economic Impacts of Poor sanitation in Africa Report, on the basis of a desk study carried out by the water and sanitation Program (WASP), Liberia is losing US$17.5million annually due to poor sanitation. This sum is equivalent to US$ 4.9 per person in Liberia per year or 2.0% of the national GDP.

An estimated US$.4m lost each year due to premature death as approximately 3,000 Liberians including 1,800 children under 5 years die each year from diarrhea, nearly 90% of which are directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In addition poor sanitation is a contributing factor to malnutrition rates which are leading causes to infant mortality rates.

Also in Liberia US$80,000 lost each year due to productivity losses as a result of sickness on the job while accessing healthcare. This includes time absent from work or school due to diarrhea disease seeking treatment at a health clinic or hospital and time spent caring for under 5's suffering from diarrhea or other sanitation diseases.

During the course of her first term in office, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf participated in and authorized the activities intended to improve clean water delivery in Liberia through pipe-borne water delivery systems as well as protected well water for citizens in the rural and less accessible communities.

This was followed in May 2011 with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signing the water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) compact that aligns the principles of the sanitation and water for all, a global framework for action. The Government has sought to implement WASH activities through the Ministry of Pub

lic Works, specifically through the department of Rural Development and community Services.

The entire WASH processes is part of the administration of the Agenda for Transformation, steps towards Liberia Rising 2030 after the lift Liberia from poverty strategy (PRS) that helped Liberia move from post conflict emergency reconstructions and positioned it for future economic growth.

We view that government and development partners will help raise all the US$400m needed to salvage Liberia's water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) situation on a better footing in line with that of other developing countries. As the Investment into the WASH capacity Development Plan is launched we view that it is imperative on all stakeholders to continue their robust sector in overcoming the numerous challenges before them. Indeed water is life, but sanitation and hygiene is better life.

IndeedLiberia needs safe drinking water and a shift from open defecation and latrines to the use of toilets so as to minimize sicknesses.

Copyright © 2013 The Informer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.