The forum was organized by the United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency and Development in Liberia (UYPETDL), with funding from Oxfam GB. It was held under the theme: “We cannot wait to end this water and sanitation crisis in Liberia.”
At the start of the forum in Clara Town, the head of women in the area, Annava Johnson, attributed the problem to untimely garbage collection, lack of toilets and safe drinking water.
“Right now most of the houses in this area don’t have toilets. We tried to talk to people to use at least the smallest room in their house for bathroom,” Madam Johnson added.
She lamented the deplorable condition; saying, “If you see where we can get water to drink, you will feel sorry for us. We are suffering and we can’t live like this always.”
At the forum, the advocacy manager at Oxfam GB, Jackie Okoa, supported the call for the establishment of a single body to regulate the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in the country.
Madam Okoa said the establishment of such body is important to ensure that whatever concerning the WASH sector that is done on paper will be actualized.
She however cautioned residents to take up the responsibility to help solve their problem.
“Even as we knock on the door of the government to ensure this body is set up and they are doing what they are suppose to do, let us not forget that we also have a responsibility,” she noted, stressing that “You don’t construct your house and don’t put a toilet in place and looking at government to set up a communal toilet for you.”
The Executive Director of United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency and Development in Liberia (UYPETDL), Timothy Kpeh, who was also at the program said the aim of the forum is to create awareness among community residents on the establishment of the WASH Commission.
Timothy explained that the WASH Commission, when established, will ensure good governance, accountability, transparency and sustainability in the WASH sector.
“This process is to develop a district resolution that will be taken to various district representatives and then taken to national government to ensure the establishment of the WASH Commission,” Timothy said.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2012 signed the Liberia WASH Compact which was developed at a Multi Donor Conference on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
The Liberia WASH Compact is a document which among other things calls for the establishment of a WASH Commission and ensure that the Liberian population have adequate access to safe water and improved sanitation facilities.
Since signing the compact, the government is yet to establish the WASH Commission though a WASH Board has been set up.