Liberia commits to delivering safe water, basic toilets and hygiene to their people

LONDON, United Kingdon, 16 April 2014 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- A group of Sub-Saharan African leaders have pledged to work harder to reach 325 million people on the continent without safe water and 644 million without basic toilets.
 
4_SL3_8042.jpgAround 20 countries, including 14 from Sub-Saharan Africa, have promised to provide all citizens with access to safe water, basic toilets and hygiene by 2030. Sixteen Sub-Saharan African leaders have promised to eliminate open defecation in their countries by 2030.
 
Another 10 Sub-Saharan African governments made separate commitments towards universal access.

The pledges came as representatives of more than 50 governments gathered in Washington, DC on Friday, 11 April for the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting, opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the 11 April meeting with warnings that the crisis in water and sanitation will hold back efforts to eradicate poverty.

“Achieving sanitation and water for all may not be cost-free – but it will set people free. Access to sanitation and water means a child free of disease, a woman free of the back-breaking chore to fetch water, a girl free to attend school without fear, a village free of cholera, and a world of greater equality and dignity for all,” he said.

WaterAid (http://www.wateraid.org), a founding partner in the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, welcomed the commitments.
 

“WaterAid welcomes the pledges African governments have made at the High Level Meeting to provide safe water and basic toilets. What is crucial now will be action to deliver those promises. One thousand children in Sub-Saharan Africa die every day from this health crisis. Safe water, basic toilets and proper hand-washing with soap can save those lives,” said Barbara Frost, WaterAid Chief Executive.

Among the specific commitments:
 

•             Zambia has pledged 75% access to safe water and 60% access to sanitation by 2015 and universal access to safe water and 90% access to sanitation by 2030;
 

•             Burkina Faso has pledged to bring potable water to 4.5 million more people in 2015 and to address open defecation by improving sanitation for 3 million people.
 

•             Ethiopia has pledged to have 98.5% of its population with access to water and everyone with access to basic sanitation by 2015.

 
•             Nigeria has pledged to end open defecation and achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2025.

 
Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, told participants that he would hold them to their promises.
 
“Sanitation and Water for All is an important mechanism to not just learn from each other, but to hold ourselves accountable for results – results that benefit the poorest and most vulnerable people,” he said.

New data from the World Health Organisation and Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Water Supply and Sanitation show the massive and growing inequalities in access to safe water and toilets around the world: 748 million globally without safe water and 2.5 billion without proper sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there remain 325 million without safe water and 644 million without basic sanitation.

Of the 1 billion people around the world still practicing open defecation, 227 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa; 9 in 10 of them live in rural areas.

Safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene can prevent illness and make a community healthier and more productive. They can also prevent infant and child mortality, improve rates of education, and prevent the vulnerability that comes when women and girls tasked with fetching water must walk long distances to do so, or when they do not have a safe place to relieve themselves.

“This crisis has had a devastating impact on Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, development, and families. But sanitation is now recognised as essential in ending extreme poverty. Our challenge is to reach our poorest and most excludedand ensure that everyone’s right to water and sanitation is met in our lifetime. These pledges from African governments are a big step towards realising a healthier and more prosperous future for our continent,” said Nelson Gomonda, pan-African programme manager for WaterAid.

In total, government ministers from 44 developing countries made 265 commitments to increase access to water and sanitation, including promises to address massive inequalities in access,  including between urban and rural residents, rich and poor, and among ethnic groups and regions.

WaterAid has made its own commitments toward a vision of reaching everyone, everywhere by 2030 with safe water and sanitation, as a founding partner in the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership of more than 90 country governments, donors, civil society organisations and other development partners.

 
Country Statement of Commitments Republic of Liberia Key sector indicators

Water: Liberia has made great strides in increasing access to and use of improved sources of drinking water. According to the Joint Monitoring Programme on Water and Sanitation (JMP 2013 update), Liberia achieved its MDG target for drinking water in 2017 and about 74% of the overall population has now access to an improved water source.

Sanitation and hygiene: However, limited progress has been made in the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector, with only 18% of the population having access to improved sanitation and 44% of the population still practicing open defecation. Less than 20% of the population practices hand-washing with soap or ashes.

Disparities: Additionally, large disparities exist in access, especially to sanitation. Open defecation rates are over 70% in the poorest rural districts in the Southeastern, Northwestern and Central Regions. Even in drinking water, where much progress has been made, there are still huge service gaps between urban areas (89% access) and rural areas (60% access). Further, within the urban setting there are inequities between formal settlements and informal areas, including peri-urban settlements, which are home to 60% of Liberia’s current population.
Impact on health, economy, poverty and other sectors: WSP has estimated that Liberia loses USD 1,236 Liberian Dollars (LRD) (US$ 18 million) per year, or the equivalent of 2% of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which translates into an average 346 dollars (US$ 4.9) per capita annually, or 417 dollars (US$ 5.9) per un-served inhabitant, because of poor sanitation.  

Long- term vision and focus for 2016

Long term vision: Liberia is determined to achieve universal access to water and sanitation. Liberia aims to eliminate open defecation nationwide and to provide a minimum standard WASH package to 100% of the population by 2030. Liberia will prioritize the delivery of basic services to the poorest rural districts with highest malnutrition rates, as well as to informal settings in urban dwellings.

Focus between 2014 and 2016: Between 2014 and 2016, Liberia will focus on increasing political prioritization and capacity for eliminating open defecation and promoting delivery of low – cost integrated packages in urban and rural areas. It will focus on creating financial, institutional and human resources capacity to scale-up community based sanitation programmes in priority districts and to promote sanitation as the entry point for delivering integrated WASH and nutrition services. It will also work on developing evidence on which sanitation approaches work for the urban poor.
Fit with national priorities: Strengthening the capacity of local government is in line with the national priority of decentralization and devolution of powers in other sectors (health and education). Focusing on sanitation is also directly related to the national priority of eradicating poverty and fighting malnutrition.

Key bottlenecks
The Government of Liberia has worked in consultation with stakeholders to identify the main bottlenecks in the WASH sector, and sanitation specifically, both during the 2012 Global Assessment of Sanitation ad Water (GLAAS) and the 2013 WASH Bottleneck Analysis Tool (BAT) processes. The bottleneck analysis focussed on the enabling environment for sustainability of WASH services covering the following 15 defined environment factors:  
    1) policy;                                            14) technology;
    2) targets;                                   15) quality of work.
    3) social norms;  
    4) Institutional leadership;
    5) coordination;
    6) investment planning;
    7) service monitoring;
    8) supply-chain and services;
    9) local participation;
    10) service maintenance mechanisms;
    11) affordable financing;
    12) inclusiveness;
    13) private sector involvement;
Nationally the main bottlenecks for sanitation were identified as: lack of dedicated government funding for sanitation and in particular for rural sanitation, lack of a clear strategy, fragmentation of governance, and lack of proper coordination among the institutions responsible for governance and implementation of WASH activities.
In the poorest rural districts, identified as priorities, the main bottlenecks were lack of dedicated and trained human resources and lack of funds for decentralized WASH institutions and local government, to whom responsibility is to be decentralized.
Additionally, the peri-urban settings have not been targeted by sanitation programs by government and there is no program targeting the urban poor. However scattered approaches have been introduced by partners and there seems to be private sector initiatives that can be further explored.

Summary of progress on 2012 HLM Commitments
Commitments on increasing political prioritization: There has beensome progress in commitments to increase funding for the WASH sector, however much has not been done to increase funding to water and sanitation. This commitment needs to be carried to 2014, but changed to focus on sanitation and water to all WASH related institutions and to evolve into long term financing. Our updated commitments for 2012 show that only three WASH related Agencies of Government show any visibility of inclusion of water, sanitation and hygiene in their budgets. These include the Ministry of Public Works the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation and the Monrovia City Corporation, even though funds allocated did not materialize into projects or activities. The 2014 commitments focus on getting that visibility into every WASH sector agency. The issue of urban sanitation is critical and therefore strides will be made to tackle the problem in this two year commitment cycle. In the 2013-2014 National Budget, attention was given to urban sanitation (public toilets) but funds allocated in the budget was not allocated to any specific entity.

Commitments on promoting the development of a strong evidence base: Good progress has been achieved in water point mapping in the rural areas. Efforts will be made to carry out a sanitation mapping exercise, even if this is possible in a rapid manner. New commitments in the area of evidence-based decision making will focus on strengthening capacity at decentralized structures.
Commitments on strengthening national planning processes: Some short-term improvements in sector coordination, but a longer-term reform of roles and responsibilities, especially for the sanitation sector, should be sought. This set of commitments will be carried to 2014, but changed to focus on long term changes.

2014 SMART Commitments
• Visibility of sanitation and water

•    The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare will work with the Ministry of Finance to include budget lines for sanitation, hygiene promotion and water quality surveillance in the National Budget by 2015

    The Ministry of Education will work along with the Ministry of Finance to include a budget line for water, sanitation and hygiene in the National Budget by 2015.
    The Liberia Water, Sewer Corporation will work with the Ministry of Finance to include a budget line for urban sewerage in the National Budget by 2015.
    City Corporations or municipalities will work with the Ministry of Finance to include a budget line for urban sanitation in the National Budget by 2015.
• Financing of sanitation:
•    The Ministry of Finance will work to create a sustainable Sanitation Fund for Sanitation, by 2015.
    The Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy will work along with WASH Sector Ministries and DPs to complete a feasibility study by 2016 to establish a WASH pool fund, in order to enhance financing and strengthen national processes.
• Costed strategy to eliminate open defecation in priority districts:
•    The Ministry of Finance will secure and disperse funds for sanitation in the PSIP by 2016.
    The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare and WASH Agencies will develop a strategy and a financing plan that will be integrated into the national medium term expenditure framework which sets specific investment targets for FY2016, to eliminate open defecation in priority districts.

 

• Decentralization;
•    The Ministry of Public Works will work with Ministry of Local Government to develop a capacity building plan for decentralized staff, in priority districts in selected counties by 2015.
• Capacity:
•    The Ministry of Public Works will work with the Ministry of Health to monitor, make quarterly reports on the functionality and sustainability of WASH facilities by 2015.
• Evidence:
•    The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will carry out a comparative study of sanitation approaches for the poor in the urban areas in order to develop evidence of what works.

Validation

The Ministers of Finance, Public Works, Health & Social Welfare, the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Monrovia City Corporation with support from International and local partner and the CSO WASH Working Group validated this statement.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of WaterAid.

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