The Meeting held under the theme: “WASH and Health-Reaching a Common Level of Understanding”, was attended by 45 delegates of WaterAid from the United States of America, Europe–mainly from the United Kingdom and several West African Countries.
The Meeting was intended to discuss series of WASH issues and how to design plans and strategies on healthcare as an essential role in addressing the problems associated with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Delegates at the Meeting resolved that access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene can contribute significantly to improving health outcome.
“This is an essential element that can reduce the burden of disease and malnutrition, as well as relieving pressure on the whole healthcare system for under developed countries around the world like Liberia,” the delegates pointed out.
The United Nations in its 2006 Index Report states that half of the hospital beds in developing countries were filled by people with illnesses caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. This signifies the need for improved WASH facilities in developing countries.
Delegates at the Meeting said they were reviewing the aspect of the UN Index Report, for which WaterAid and its collaborating partners have decided to prioritize healthcare in new WASH interventions to address the problem.
The Meeting also focused on WaterAid’s support to countries around the world where the organization is currently operating including Liberia and how water and sanitation can play a vital role beyond the United Nations post 2015 Millennium Development Goal.
Under the UN 2015 Millennium Development Agenda, majority of the world population must have access to safe drinking water, which is yet to be achievable in many countries as 2015 is just next year.
According to WaterAid Team Leader for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Apollos Nwafor, the Meeting was also planned to afford the delegates the opportunity to chart with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is WASH Goodwill Ambassador for Africa to share with them her plans about making safe waterand good sanitation affordable for the marginalized population.
Mr. Nwafor said it was good for WaterAid Worldwide to host its first Regional Strategic Management Meeting in Liberia, because according to him, Liberia as a Country has made significant progress in the WASH sector that other countries need to learn from”.
He pointed out that despite the many gains made by Liberia in the WASH sector, more needs to be done by government, the consortium of WASH organizations and their international partners including WaterAid to ensure Liberians have equal access to safe drinking water and good sanitation.
Meanwhile WaterAid Country Representative for Nigeria, Michael Ojo, is calling for a political will-power which he says “is the only means the WASH Sector in the Sub-region can improve”.
Dr. Ojo wants governments and stakeholders in the Sub-region to begin providing the necessary financial support to the WASH Sector of their respective countries.
He said in the absence of support from governments and relevant stakeholders to the sector, international WASH partners and their local collaborators cannot succeed.
Dr. Ojo said because the challenges in the WASH Sector of every country in the sub-region are very huge and needs collective efforts.
Some of the topics discussed at the Meeting include the Link between WASH and Health, Using Evidence for Influencing, Facebook on Regional Processes on WASH and Health, Planning GAP2 activities within the Context of the MPB-objectives and activities.
Others include “Planning GAP2 activities within the Context of the MPB identifying Targets, Allies, Supportive Frameworks including identifying Key Priorities, identifying support needs and where they might come from”, among others.
Meanwhile, the Liberian Government has assured WaterAid of its fullest support.
Assistant Public Works Minister for Rural Water and Development, George W. Yango said his government will support to uphold best practices for sustainable provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to its people.
Speaking at a well attended WaterAid’s social evening with over 40 staff from all of its West African Country Programmes and the UK at the close of the Meeting on Friday, January 17, 2014 at the Grand Royal Hotel in Sinkor-Monrovia, Yango described WaterAid as a truly committed partner whose intervention has saved many lives.
According to the Assistant Public Works Minister, WaterAid’s response to vital humanitarian needs extends beyond service provision including supporting the President of Liberia as Africa’s Goodwill Ambassador for WASH.
In response, the Head of Region-WaterAid West Africa, Mariam Dem underscored the significance of the basic needs and human rights as factors that strengthen the development of any nation.
Madam Dem stressed that the time for action is now and appreciates the partnership support of the Liberian government in transforming the lives of particularly its poor people.
WaterAid has worked in Liberia and Sierra Leone as a transboundary programme since 2009.
It has reached out to more than thousand people with safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in River Gee, Maryland and Ground Kru counties.
The convening of most of its West African staff in Monrovia from 13th to 17th January was for a Regional Management Meeting and a Global Advocacy Priority workshop, all geared towards planning for the following years of intervention with a particular interest in incorporating health service delivery into WASH.
Representatives of Oxfam, Liberia WASH Consortium, UNICEF, Monrovia City Corporation and the African Development Bank were in attendance.