WASH Commission Seeks To End Open Defecation In Liberia

By: Oretha Bundoo

Gbarnga, Bong County-WTVNEWS:The National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commission in partnership and with support from UNICEF is conducting a three day workshop on comprehensive harmonized action to water, sanitation and hygiene in Liberia.

The workshop is intended to form the CHATWASH Movement in Liberia. Several officials of Government, county administrators, environmental health and WASH sector professionals, non-governmental and civil society organisations are currently attending to discuss WASH related issues and challenges to find the most appropriate solution in ending open Defecation in the country.

It is also gear towards the active engagement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs through its county leadership responsible to plan, monitor, supervise and sustain the environmental health and WASH programs in their administrative areas.

Speaking at the opening session, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf said open Defecation is one of the human practices of defecating outside of roof provided for defecation.

As participants gather to discuss the health hazards open defecation poses to the people, Minister Sirleaf indicated that one of the reason is because citizens do not have a toilet that is accessible for them to use.

He furthered that proper facilities are needed for citizens to utilise if Liberia as a country must end open defecation. “Looking at what is happening in cities, slums and rural communities, the issue of open defecation is high mostly at night.”

Min. Sirleaf alarmed over the health risk that comes along with open defecation, noting that it can pollute the environment, causes health problems and diseases in the country.

According to World Health Organization and UNICEF, open defecation is linked to higher child mortality, poor nutrition, poverty and large disparity between the rich and the poor.

As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number six(6), any open defecation is an indicator used to measure progress which says clean water, sanitation for all.

Minister Sirleaf also mentioned that the gathering is to form a new partnership for the purpose of implementing the ‘ending open Defecation’ roll map for 2025 which was developed by Liberia.
“This is to also embark on a behavior change effort to promote the use of toilets.”

Meanwhile the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the WASH Commission,Hon. Bobby Whitfield said the issue of ending Open Defecation is everyone’s business and needs involvement.

Honorable Whitfield lamented that superintendents will be held accountable for the implementation of ending Open Defecation at the county level.

The WASH Boss emphasized that what President Weah is doing in the WASH sector is a silent and slow effort but very strategic movement to change the story of the wash sector in Liberia under his dynamic leadership and for the betterment of Liberians.

Today, WASH has been recognized at a very high level forums, Liberia, the efforts being made exacted by everyone including the leadership at the back has been recognized at so many different level, one of such recognition is UNICEF, UNICEF is here to support government and this program is not for UNICEF but the government and people of Liberia.

UNICEF as a partner in development in making sure that Liberia achieves, has recognized the Country’s readiness to make the difference in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Still speaking, the CEO said the efforts and leadership of President Weah has been recognized by the US Government and has been listed as priority county for wash support and five counties are expected to benefit from 30 million dollars in ending Open Defecation in those countries.

At the same time the representative of UNICEF Liberia, Leila Gad appreciated the participants and said she was impressed about the participation of more women been at such an important forum to form part of discussion on the issue of open defecation that affects their health daily.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Education, Johnson Hinneh said the Ministry of Education is convinced that ODF can only be achieved when citizens adopt a desirable attitude and behavior to practice healthy defecation.

Hinneh also mentioned, Ministry of Education as an institution of Government has the responsibility for assuring access to safe drinking water, child friendly sanitation facilities and promotion of good hygienic behavior for all school children across the Country and as such the are prepared in working with the WASH Commission in ending Open Defecation in the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *