MONROVIA- OCT 26-Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world, evidenced by its richness in rivers, rainforests, mangroves and swamps. Yet, a large proportion of the population does not have access to clean drinking water, close to 90% of the population has limited access to safe drinking water
Sanitation is equally very poor, with the vast majority of people in rural areas lacking decent toilets and latrines, and having to defecate in open places. About 42% of citizens practice open defecation according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 (JMP 2017) report.
According to the WASH Sector Performance Report of 2018, Liberia is nowhere close to attaining the recently developed WASH SDGs by 2030.
The National Vision for the WASH sector aims to have equitable, safe, affordable and sustainable water supply and sanitation services for all Liberians by 2023. The government, as part of the vision established the WASH Commission and promised to mobilize resources for water supply infrastructure.
The Commission was established with a mandate to promote and regulate the development, management of water, sanitation and hygiene services and serves as the principal government entity on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) throughout the Republic of Liberia.
President George Weah in August 2018, appointed Amb. Bobby Whitfield as Liberia’s very first Commissioner/Chairman and CEO of the newly established National Water Sanitation and Hygiene Commission.
Since he took office, Amb. Whitfield has been making great progress in line with the National Vision for the sector to ensure affordable and sustainable water and sanitation services accessible to all Liberians by 2023. In 2019 his Commission developed a road map to end open defecation within 5 years taking into consideration scale, speed, stigma and sustainability.
In March 2022, he led a Liberian delegation to attend the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. In that forum, Liberia benefited US$50 million from the United States Government towards the sector.
On October 18, 2022, he led another delegation to attend this year’s “All System Go Africa Symposium” in Accra Ghana.
The Symposium provides stakeholders attending the event the opportunity to kick-start a continental agenda that will focus efforts toward achieving effective and resilient governance, management and operating systems for water, sanitation and hygiene.
Hosted by the Government of Ghana in partnership with IRC and UNICEF, the All System Go Africa symposium brought together people from the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector across Africa, as well as leaders and champions from education, health, public finance and the emergency sectors to exchange ideas, learn from past experience, and how to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene systems on the continent.
At the end of the three days event, Liberia’s WASH Commissioner, Bobby Whitfield won the “Most Inspiring Presenter Award” as the second prize winner on behalf of the Liberian delegation. With this award, Mr. Whitfield will join other stakeholders in the WASH Sector from across the world in The Hague in May 2023 to attend the All System Connect Forum.
In March 2000, African leaders signed up to the vision of an Africa where there is sustainable access to drinking water and sanitation that are safe and adequate to meet the basic needs of all by 2025. 22 years after signing up for this vision, the IRC says 395 million Africans still lack access to safely managed drinking water, and 504 million live without safe sanitation services.
While there remains a huge deficit in infrastructure, the water and sanitation body maintained that many of the available facilities across the continent are inadequately managed, breakdown prematurely, or are poorly regulated, underfunded, and fall short of the dignified public service standards in the human right to water and sanitation.