Liberia

President Sirleaf Chairs Round Table Donor Conference; Entreats Partners In The Wash Sector

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Monrovia, Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has entreated partners at a one-day roundtable donor conference to demonstrate strong partnership in the water and sanitation sector as government focuses at strategic priority areas in its Agenda for Transformation, adding that “prevention has to be given much attention than cure”.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf was speaking at a one-day stakeholders’ roundtable donor Conference on the Liberia Water and Sewer Sector held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the theme: Addressing the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation infrastructural gaps.

The Liberian Chief Executive informed donor partners at the discussion that her leadership would be strategic and very strong in strengthening the Water & Sanitation Sector because according to her, she wants larger segment of the Liberian population have access to safe- drinking Water and better sanitation services.

President Sirleaf commended Liberia’s partners, terming their assistance to Water and Sewer over the years as very fruitful to the survival of the Liberian people. She acknowledged the many challenges facing the WASH sector today, but was quick to point out that if Liberia is going to have a strong health sector, prevention has to be given much more attention than cure, noting that “We must now begin to channel our resources to the WASH sector and concentrate on how citizens can have access to clean and safe water, especially to correct past neglect as we look at our priorities in the Agenda for Transformation especially what we going to do in post-Ebola”, she emphasized. She added that, “We now have the capacity to respond and prevent any chances of an infectious disease outbreak”.

The Liberian leader encouraged partners to consolidate partnership in getting priorities done in the interest of the people in a timely fashion. President Sirleaf said part of the problem relates to governance and the fragmentation in the WASH sector. She then used the occasion to thank the partners and participants for all the support given over the years to the WASH sector while looking forward to better results.

Briefing partners who have been supporting the Water & Sanitation Sector, since 2006, the Managing Director of the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation, Mr. Hun-Bu Tulay, said the aims and objectives of the gathering was for the LWSC to share its many challenges aimed at making improvements in the corporation’s service delivery with the involvement of its partners, geared towards increased support and to also share with partners progress made in restoring water and sanitation service since 2006 as well as solicit partners’ assistance to close the gaps identified.

Mr. Tulay said restoring LWSC pre-war sewage system would be a good step in the right direction and the focus should be on addressing existing challenges. He noted before the conflict, the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation was supplying about 16-million gallons of water per day when the city population was about 750,000 to 0.7 million gallon per day when the system resumed operation at the cessation of hostilities at a time when the city population was more than 1.0 million. The Water and Sewer MD said today, with the interventions from the Government of Liberia and donors water supply has increased to 4 million gallons per day. He however clarified that to improve on the problem rehabilitation works at LWSC’s facilities would be done in three phases.

Mr. Tulay explained that in Phase One (2016-2020), the LWSC will expand the plant by additional 8 million gallons daily - constituting US$15m; Phase Two, which begins in 2020-2025 will see additional 8million gallon daily. He said to effect the necessary increase prioritizing the replacement of the existing 16-inche pipeline from White Plain to Monrovia would amount to increased water supply; while the Third Phase, which starts by 2030 will expand the plant by additional 16 million gallons daily totaling US$60 million above the 2025 capacity of US$30.00m.

He informed the roundtable conference that the World Bank has made commitment to finance the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the Monrovia distribution network which needs immediate rehabilitation. The Bank’s commitment covers 80% of the network as well as it expansion. He noted that the corporation intends to carry out improvement works in stages owing to huge costs attached.

For his part, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation, Kimmie Weeks said the board was aware that numerous problems exist at the entity but assured the partners that efforts are being applied to ease the cost of getting water supply to communities in and around Monrovia. He said since taking over as chair of the corporation’s board the entity has been beset with challenges ranging from limited storage corroded pipe-lines that are leaking, causing the corporation to lose in the collection of revenues. Mr. Week highlighted in-efficiency in service delivery, including slowness the preparation of bills for payment among others as some of the problems faced.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank, European Union, USAID and a host of other donors have recommitted themselves to working with the Management of the Liberia Water and Sewer Cooperation in providing access to safe and clean drinking water to all adding, “Without greater progress, children will continue to miss school and spend countless hours every day fetching water, particularly from unhealthy sources,” they observed.