The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia (WASH R&E) has launched an investigation into the 2012/2013 WASH National Budget in the amount of 2.2 million United States dollars.
Prior to the investigation, there were reports that the Government of Liberia(GOL) apportioned 1.5 million United States dollars in the National Budget, but the money was not used, despite repeated calls for support to the WASH Sector of Liberia.
This led to the Investigation by the WASH Media Network of Liberia to authenticate how much was allocated for the sector in the National Budget, and why was the amount not used in the wake of huge funding gap to ensure access to improved WASH facilities across the country.
The WASH Media Investigation forms part of an on-going Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation in Montserrado, supported by WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Allocation of a separate budget line for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the Fiscal Budget of the Republic of Liberia has been a major issue that many actors in the sector continue to describe the provision of more funding for WASH as the way forward to accelerate progress in the sector.
Following many calls from the Liberia Civil Society Organizations WASH Network and other WASH sector actors, the Liberian government saw the necessitate and allocated what was then considered a good start, 2.2 million United States dollars in the 2012/2013 Fiscal Budget for the WASH sector.
The WASH Media Investigation discovered that despite the need for funding in the sector, Public Ministries and Agencies implementing WASH activities failed to utilize the 2.2 million United States dollars budget for the sector.
They include the Ministries of Public Works, Health and Social Welfare, Lands, Mines & Energy, Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC), Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC).
These Institutions according to the budget tracking carried out by the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia, failed to make a request to the Ministry of Finance for their respective WASH allotments, as required.
A percentage of the 2.2 million United States dollars was respectively set aside for each of the recipients, aimed at implementing government's WASH projects in the country.
According to the Investigation, the funds in question from the last budget season have been taken back by government based on the fact that no request was made for it to be spent by the WASH related Public Institutions.
Authorities at the Finance Ministry have however disclosed that in the present 2013/2014 National Budget, the Government of the Republic of Liberia has allocated 3.4 million United States dollars for the WASH sector.
Institutions with WASH oversight are the direct beneficiaries for the allotment made by government in the current 2013/2014 National Budget.
When contacted, the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Promotion Committee based at the Public Works Ministry through its Coordinator, Abdul Koroma asserted that the Institutions in involved did not fail to pick up their allotments, but said programs including proposals were not however presented.
He however regrettable the inability of the Ministries and Agencies to utilize the WASH funding in the 2012/2013 National Budget, but said the dissemination of information concerning the budget was not done properly by the Finance Ministry.
Poor communication about the budget processes, according to the Coordinator of the National WASH Promotion Committee led to the situation.
Mr. Koroma meanwhile disclosed that measures have been taken by Institutions concerned, intended to provide proper education on the current WASH 2013/ 2014 Budget.
Observers are hoping that this time around, the Ministries and Agencies responsible for WASH activities would make use of the appropriation.
Repeat of similar action would also shift the allotment for another program, something that would deter advocacy efforts, especially for WASH funding as there are several competing priorities.
The lack of capacity to fully implement WASH projects was one of the reasons that may have hindered the request of the Public Ministries and Agencies involved.