Citizens of Rivercess County including Civil Society Organizations, Youth, Women, Elders and Chiefs have presented a petition statement to their County legislative Caucus on the issues of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
The statement among other things called for the County Legislative Caucus to identify clear budget lines and increase funding in the National budget to meet the eThekwini Declaration, of the United Nation Least Development Countries program of Action for the decade 2011–2020 WASH Aspect and AfricaSan Action Plan.
The eThekwini Declaration of the United Nations called for developing countries to have access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) from 2011-2020.
Reading the petition on behalf of the Rivercess Citizens, a resident Handsome Barclay said the statement to the Lawmakers was necessary because of the lack of safe drinking Water which continues to make life unbearable for Citizens in the County.
According to the Citizens, they were joining other counties and Citizens across Liberia in drawing the attention of their Lawmakers to be more robust in confronting national government to provide safe drinking water for every Citizen in Liberia.
They noted that eighty five to ninety percent of Rivercess Citizens are still drinking from running water or creeks, which according to them poses serious sanitation problems for them in their towns and Villages across the entire county.
“Since I was born up to now, I never had the opportunity to drink from a hand pump”, an elderly woman believed to be in her nineties only called the Godly Oldma from Glassco Town in the suburb of Cestos City lamented at the petitioning Forum.
The Rivercess Citizens made the petition over the weekend at “Meet the Lawmakers Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Forum held at the Cestos City Hall in Cestos City, Rivercess County.
The Forum was organized by the United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency & Development in Liberia (UYPETDL) Inc., with support from FACE Africa, a Liberian-US based organization currently providing WASH services in Rivercess County.
Receiving the petition statement on behalf of the Rivercess County Legislative Caucus, Rivercess County Senior Senator, Jonathan Barney who was the only Lawmakers present at the program, extolled the citizens for their initiative to hold government accountable to them.
According to him, water is life and said it is sadden that majority of Rivercess Citizens are still drinking from creeks which he said has the propensity to take lives and their finances from tracking illnesses based on contaminated water and open deification.
The Rivercess Senior Senator disclosed that they have inserted certain amount of money in this year’s fiscal budget for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and that the county authorities should begin putting rightful mechanisms in place to adequately use their portion of the money.
Senator Barney urged the United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency & Development in Liberia (UYPETDL) Inc. to begin constructively engaging the Public Works Ministry to work in collaboration to ensure that funds provided by donors for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) benefits for the citizens of Liberia.
He however called on citizens to partner with local organizations in their areas by providing their moral assistance to ensure the implementation of various WASH projects in their towns and villages.
The Rivercess Senior Senator also urged citizens of Rivercess to be more responsive in giving good maintenance to projects provided them.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Directive of the United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency & Development in Liberia (UYPETDL) Inc., Timothy Kpeh said the Forum was held in partnership with the Youth and Disable WASH Network, and commanded FACE Africa for the support.
He also extolled efforts of Rivercess citizens for their participation leading to the success of the WASH Legislative Forum.
The success of the Forum followed weeks of intense awareness, education and mobilization by UYPETDL in towns and villages across Rivercess on the importance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and the need to hold government accountable, through the County’s Legislative Caucus for the provision of WASH facilities and services.
The objective of the Forum among other things, petitioned local government officials of Rivercess County to ensure the establishment of a WASH Commission in Liberia and prioritize WASH in County Development Agenda, and to equally ensure community dwellers, youth, women, disabled and students full participation in WASH decision making processes at the county level.