The Fostering Innovative Sanitation and Hygiene (FISH) in Monrovia Project funded by the African Water Facility (AWF) was launched yesterday in the presence of over 40 people including representatives of beneficiaries and development partners.
The Facility offers a €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, Liberia.
This will be the first initiative by the Government to provide fecal sludge management services to unsewered poor areas of Liberia since the end of the civil war in 2003. The long-standing conflict put a halt to infrastructure maintenance and development, particularly in the area of water and sanitation, which led to a drop in access rates - a situation that continues to deteriorate in the unsewered informal settlements of Monrovia city, where 70 per cent of the city's population lives.
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 per cent 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 fertilizer from the fecal sludge collected.
"The African Development Bank has big expectations and a lot of appreciations behind this small project that was enthusiastically championed by the former acting Mayor Mary Broh and the ladies team of Ellen, Amanda and Jefyne," said Margaret Kilo, Resident Representative of the African Development Bank.
"We feel privileged to be given the opportunity to boost the water and sanitation sector in parts of Monrovia, and excited to address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens. This is a smart project with numerous benefits bound to restore people's health and dignity, boost the communities' economic growth and enhance food security," said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator, African Water Facility.
"The City of Monrovia has a tough task: we have self-mandated ourselves to become one of Africa's cleanest and greenest cities within the next three years. We are grateful for the African Water Facility and other development partners and look forward to the successful implementation of the FISH Project, as we strive to deliver comprehensive services in the City of Monrovia," said Henry Reed Cooper, Acting City Mayor of Monrovia.
Some distinct features of the project include:
the promotion of community-based enterprises and management teams to build local ownership;
the 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 emptying services, good coverage in areas otherwise disregarded by the private sector; and
the provision of technical assistance for devising an effective marketing and sales strategy to kick off 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.