Liberia’s President, and Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held the first National Water Resource Sanitation Board Meeting, after some delays.
The Meeting held Monday, June 22, 2015 brought together several line Ministries and Agencies and WASH Development Partners.
President Sirleaf addressing the Meeting commanded WASH sector actors including development partners for the level of improvement in the sector.
The President however reminded stake holders that there is still more to be done to yield the much needed result.
The issue of fragmentation was key in the President’s Message to Members of the Board which comprises 13 Ministers and some Heads of WASH line Agencies.
Touching on the issue of the proposal for the establishment of a Ministry with oversight for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) was not endorsed by the President. Time and limited resources are some of the key factors.
Instead, President Sirleaf called on actors in the sector to work out modalities ensuring that a governance structure is put in place to effectively monitor activities in the WASH sector of the country.
She used the occasion to commend development partners for filling in the gap of WASH service delivery, especially in rural areas where services of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation have not reached.
The President was very clear that a WASH Ministry cannot be established now due to complex nature of Ministries and process of stream lining government’s functionaries.
The formation of the National Water Resource Sanitation Board is one of the recommendations enshrined in the Liberia WASH Compact developed 3 years ago by the Government of Liberia, stake holders, civil society and WASH development partners.
Following the close of the first National Water Resource Sanitation Board Meeting, WASH Journalists took time to chart with Partners and Stakeholders who worked to ensure the Meeting and continue to work in the interest of moving the WASH sector forward.
First was the Team Leader of WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Chuchu Selma, followed by Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, George Yarngo and the National WASH Coordinator, Abdul Koroma.
Sharing his thoughts about the inaugural WASH Board Meeting chaired by President Sirleaf, WaterAid Liberia/Sierra Leone Team Leader, Chuchu Selma described the Meeting as impressive about attendance and sees it as a milestone and a positive outcome of all the discussions in the WASH sector.
According to Mr. Selma, the Meeting centered around the issue of fragmentation in WASH and strategizing the way forward to bring together all functionaries under one Institution to resolve the issue of fragmentation.
He said putting in place a governance structure to bring about a better coordination was a major outcome of the Meeting.
“I consider the sitting of the Board as a big jump for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of Liberia”, Mr. Selma added.
Also providing feedback on the Meeting chaired by the Liberian Leader, Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, George Yarngo, started by historicizing on efforts in the WASH sector.
Mr. Yarngo disclosed that the process of solving Liberia’s WASH issues started as far back as the early 1980 during the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade.
He said there was a Document that came up from that Assembly which recognized the issue of fragmentation, establishing a Board would be a start of bringing about a well-coordinated system in the WASH sector of the country.
Mr. Yarngo said the Meeting of the Board is also part of efforts by WASH actors to see a well-defined system put in place for WASH in Liberia.
He said the first National Water Resource Sanitation Board Meeting chaired by President Sirleaf, is part of the pending 3rd Annual Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Joint Sector Review (JSR).
Commenting on the Joint Sector Review, Mr. Yarngo said it was adopted from Uganda as a way of reviewing gains, successes and challenges in the WASH sector of the country.
The Assistant Public Works Minister said there will be new features added to the JSR to bring about dynamism in the process.
For his part, the Coordinator of the National WASH Secretariat, Abdul Koroma described the Board Meeting as part of huge efforts mounted by partners over the last 3 years since the signing of the WASH Compact.
Mr. Koroma said putting in place a governance structure for the WASH sector per the request of the President is a fine idea and actors will work to ensure it comes to fruition.
He commended Members of the Board who attended the Meeting and for their commitment to improve WASH service delivery in the country, describing the request for a governance structure by the Liberian Leader as a challenge for sector actors .
Highlighting issues on the Joint Sector Review slated for Ganta, Nimba County next Month July, Mr. Koroma said the JSR will feature the voices of Liberians who are beneficiaries of WASH services.
According to him, The JSR-3 will also feature individuals who are Experts in the sector to form part of the gathering to discuss key WASH issues in the country.
The formation of the Board by President Sirleaf is intended to solve the issue of fragmentation in the WASH Sector of the country, to ensure more efficient coordination of WASH activities.
The Board is expected to put in place necessary measures that will improve service delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of Liberia.
Members of the National Water Resource Sanitation Board which is chaired by President Sirleaf include the Ministers of Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Development Planning, and Education.
Others are the Chairman of the Governance Commission, Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, the Country Representative of UNICEF-Liberia, the African Development Bank, USAID-Liberia, WASH Consortium, Global Communities, WaterAid Liberia/Sierra Leone, and the World Bank, among others.