BY WASH REPORTERS/LIBERIA
In his 70s, blind John Gweh, has embraced the methodology behind the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Initiative in his town Kwenkor, Gola Konneh District, in Grand Cape Mount County.
John, who is originally from Grand Bassa County, settled in Kwenkor, Gola Konneh before the Liberian Civil Crisis, married with four children.
After he lost his job as a trailer driver at the Freeport of Monrovia where he worked for many years, John moved to Cape Mount with the encouragement of some friends to get engaged in hunting expedition as a source of livelihood. He lost his sight due to illness in 2002.
“That’s how I settled in this county”, John added.
“I did not know the danger involved in open defecation until my town was triggered by hygiene promoters from the Community Development Services (CODES)” John told WASH Reporters .
The Community Led Total Sanitation Initiative carried out by CODES in Gola Konneh and Tewor Districts, is part of Irish Aid WASH Project implemented by the Liberia WASH Consortium through the supervision of WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He said before Kwenkor was triggered to be an Open Defecation Free (ODF) community, he was defecating in bushes not too far from his residence and as a disabled it was too risky for him.
Mr. Gweh said after the visit of the Hygiene promoters he was encouraged to do something for himself.
John noted, the visit of the hygiene promoters was an SOS call to residents to protect their own lives by improving sanitation conditions around them and to put in practice a good hygiene behavior.
“Really, I did not have a proper night rest, I was embarrassed to do something in order to change the condition around myself “, John lamented. The following day, John told WASH Reporters that he called one of his in-laws to measure an area where he will construct a pit latrine.
John revealed that he dug 4ft during his first day at work and that villagers were amazed.After working for four days, John told WASH Reporters that all was in place to erect the latrine.
“The youth leader in the town was also a great help to me during the construction of the latrine”, John further explained.Mr. Gweh has challenged Liberians to emulate him by embracing the idea of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
According to him, CLTS is the surest way of ensuring a healthy environment for communities across the country.
Mr. Gweh is meanwhile calling on Charity organizations in the country to assist him with four bundles of roofing sheet and planks to roof his house which is in a dilapidated condition.
He also appealed for the erection of a hand pump near his house to enable him have easy access to save drinking water, which he currently lacks.
A hand pump has just been constructed in his town by the Irish Aid WASH Project, but the facility is far from Mr. Gweh who is situated on the outskirts of the village.
Mr. Gweh commanded WaterAid, CODES, Liberia WASH Consortium and Irish Aid for helping to transform his life and for giving it a true meaning of human dignity.
He described the Project as very significant, and expressed the hope that other communities across Liberia would have similar opportunities to improve their conditions and stay healthy.
The Liberia WASH Consortium received the 1.1 million Euros grant from Irish Aid to implement a one year Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in five counties.
The project which commenced from November 2013 is expected to end in October this year.
The Liberia WASH Consortium Irish Aid funded Project seeks to ensure equitable and sustainable access to improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in underserved communities of Liberia.
Member Organizations of the Liberia WASH Consortium include Oxfam, WaterAid, Concern Worldwide, Population Services International (PSI), Tearfund and ACF.
The Liberia WASH Consortium (LWC) comprises of six international Organizations, “Oxfam, WaterAid, Action La Falm, Concern Worldwide, TearFund, and Population services International".
The Five counties benefiting from the Grant are Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado, River Cess and Sinoe counties.
The Liberia WASH Consortium through its Six-Member International Organizations is implementing the Project through their local partners: Association of Evangelicals of Liberia, Community Development Services, WASH Net, Youth and Disabled Network, and the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia.
The Liberia WASH Consortium (LWC) also supports the Liberian government’s WASH Strategic Sector Plan from 2013 to 2017 by contributing to a “Reduction in WASH-related diseases and improved quality of life for women and children under 5”.