Heritage (Monrovia)

22 February 2013

Liberia: African Water Facility Promotes Safe Sanitation, Hygiene Education for Urban Poor in Monrovia

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

The African Water Facility (AWF) has offered a US$ 1.2 million grant to the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to support a project aimed at increasing access to sustainable and affordable sanitation and hygiene services to over 800,000 urban slum dwellers in Monrovia.

This will be the first initiative by the government to provide fecal sludge management services to unsewered poor areas of the country since the end of the civil war in 2003. The long-standing conflict put infrastructure maintenance and development to a halt, particularly in the area of water and sanitation, which led to a drop in access rate; a situation that continues to deteriorate in the un severed informal settlements of Monrovia, where 70% of the city population live.

Through a community driven approach, the project will seek to enhance capacity for sustainable city-wide fecal sludge management.

This will complement efforts by the government of Liberia and development partners to improve service access rates and reduce the vulnerability of the urban poor to diseases caused by water contamination resulting from open defecation and septic tank overflows. It is also expected to build donor confidence in Liberia.

The AWF grant will cover 86% of the cost involved in the implementation of an effective, efficient and sustainable fecal sludge management system, which will include the construction and rehabilitation of sanitation infrastructure, as well as the production of affordable crop fertilization from the fecal sludge tanks.

"we feel privileged to be given the opportunity revive the water and sanitation sector in parts of Monrovia, and excited to be involved in project designed to address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens," said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator, AWF. "This is a smart project with a slew of all-round benefits bound to restore people's health and dignity, boost the communities' economic growth and enhance food security."

Some distinct features of the project comprise promotion of community-based enterprises and management teams to build local ownership, involvement of local artisans for building the required septic tanks, as a way to create local employment, the use of a Public-Private-Partnership model for operating and maintaining the vehicles needed for emptying the tanks, to ensure service coverage in areas otherwise disregarded by the private sector, and the provision of technical assistance for devising an effective marketing and sales strategy to kickoff the sale of fecal sludge fertilizer, to ensure a successful pitch to local farmers and boost sales.

It is hoped that the project will be scaled up to cover the entire unsewered areas of Monrovia and replicated in other urban areas throughout Liberia.

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