Liberia: UNMIL Humanitarian Situation Report No. 103

7 - 13 May 2007


- 677 former returnees arrive from Sierra Leone, Libya, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Libya

- Ministry of Health and Sightsavers hold Onchocerciasis training workshop in southeast Liberia

- Food security strategy document endorsed by stakeholders

- Liberians 'Walk the World' to fight hunger


Assessment finds significant needs in southeastern county

A seven-day joint humanitarian assessment mission conducted by the Humanitarian Coordination Section and Lutheran World Services found that residents in nine communities in Buah District in Grand Kru County lack access to water, sanitation and health facilities. The communities are Dwehken, Cherinken, Geetugbaken, Wilsonville, Wropluken, Dayoken, Jerboken, Jlateken and Plenplenken.

The assessment found that only Cherinken, Geeken and Wropluken have access to safe drinking water, while residents of the other communities drink water from nearby creeks. There are no latrines in any of the nine communities. When in need of medical attention, residents of Dwehken walk six-hours to Kanweaken in River Gee County, and those in Geetugbaken walk six hours to Barclayville Health Centre (in another district). Grand Kru County is one of the underserved counties in southeast Liberia. Only seven percent of the county residents had access to year-round safe drinking water in 2006.


Update of WDWW Dynamic Atlas begins

The Humanitarian Coordination Section is updating the Who Does What Where Dynamic Atlas in preparation for the launch of the second edition in July 2007. The Dynamic Atlas is a compendium of maps, databases and resource materials on humanitarian and recovery activities in Liberia. It also provides useful information on current and future activities by location, donor, and implementing organizations.

HCS released the first edition in January 2007, and has conducted demonstration sessions on use of the Atlas for UN agencies, NGOs, Government agencies and civil society organizations in various parts of the country.


677 returnees arrive home

During the week, UNHCR and LRRRC assisted the return of 677 Liberian refugees from Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Libya as part of the voluntary repatriation programme. The returnees received food and non-food items and secondary transportation to their final destinations in the country.

UNHCR has so far assisted the return of 97,718 Liberian refugees since official repatriation started in October 2004. The process is expected to end on 30 June 2007.


Level of diarrhoea cases 'normal' in Grand Bassa County

Ahead of the rainy season, which witnesses an increase in water-borne illnesses (diarrhoea, cholera, etc.) in many parts of Liberia, the Grand Bassa County Health Team and MERLIN (a medical NGO) have confirmed that the current cases of diarrhoea reported at health facilities in the county provide little cause for concern over a possible outbreak. During the peak of the rainy season in 2006, Grand Bassa County registered some of the highest cases of cholera and associated fatalities.

To prevent a recurrence of similar situation, the County Health Team is increasing surveillance at all health facilities, and it is chlorinating hand pumps and open wells in the county. So far, it has chlorinated 190 hand pumps and 2,397 open wells.

Onchocerciasis training workshop in southeast Liberia

The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare with support from Sightsavers International conducted a two-day training workshop on Onchocerciasis (i.e. River Blindness) in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County for six County Health teams. The workshop held on 7-8 May trained County Health Officers and their principal Assistants from six counties in the southeast of Liberia - Grand Gedeh, Maryland , River Gee, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Rivercess. Participants were trained in causes and prevention of River Blindness, community participation in disease control initiatives, reliable data collection and reporting. Participants are expected to train other health workers and members of their communities.

It is estimated that many Liberians are affected by the microfilaria, which causes River Blindness, and they need treatment to prevent permanent blindness. The drug Mectizan is used to prevent blindness in people affected by the microfilaria.


Food security strategy document endorsed by stakeholders

Participants at a two-day national workshop on the National Food Security and Nutrition Strategy endorsed the draft strategy document and proposed further discussion of the implementation mechanism of the Strategy. The workshop, held on 4-5 May, included County superintendents, representatives of lead ministries, government institutions, UN agencies and NGOs. The Food Security and Nutrition Strategy is being developed through collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, WFP and FAO, and it aims to increase Government capacity in monitoring the food security and nutrition situation and effectively targeting limited resources to address root causes of food security and malnutrition.

Liberians 'Walk the World' to fight hunger

On 13 May, hundreds of Liberians walked the major streets of Monrovia, the country's capital, to call for an end to hunger. The event was part of the global fundraising and awareness programme, Fight Hunger: Walk the World ( | Help the UN World Food Programme End Child Hunger by 2015). It is estimated that 11% of households in Liberia are food insecure (Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey, 2006)

During the week, WFP distributed 214.4 metric tons of food to some 12,100 persons in various feeding programmes in the country. The beneficiaries included refugees, returnees, schoolchildren, vulnerable persons and people engaged in local initiatives to improve agricultural, roads and small infrastructure.


Challenges in coordinating water and sanitation activities in Lofa County

Coordination of water and sanitation activities in the northern Liberia county of Lofa is being hampered by institutional, technical and resource constraints. The lack of a Government representative for the sector, inadequate data on existing water and sanitation facilities, poor maintenance of existing facilities, technical constraints and funding are key limiting factors.

The Humanitarian Coordination Section is working with the relevant agencies and organizations to address some of the challenges. Some suggestions to improve coordination in the sector include devising a priority list of activities, drawing up national guidelines on addressing water and sanitation needs, creation and maintenance of a countywide database, and incorporating maintenance of WATSAN facilities in future projects.