Liberia’s multi-sectoral response aiming to improve the nutritional status of children under five years of age is now accelerating integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions to fulfil its objectives for WASH and Nutritional developments in two targeted counties (Grand Bassa and Montserrado) in Liberia.
The current initiative is by the Liberia WASH Consortium (LWC), which practically involves Action Against Hunger, Concern World Wide, and WaterAid Liberia for their unique experiences and achievements in the sector over the years.
The response is an outcome of a Formative Research (2019/2020) on nutrition conducted in Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Grand Cape Mount Counties, which determined Grand Bassa and Rural Montserrado to be the worst affected counties of malnutrition and associated issues.
The research found that low access to food, sufficient clean water, and poor sanitation practices were very common and on the increase in the two counties. These findings, therefore, brought about the four-year Irish Aid funded project to help respond to the vices identified by the study.
Primary interventions are in the areas of Nutrition, Food, Security, Livelihoods, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
The LWC is now delivering a holistic package of WASH in selected communities of Grand Bassa and Rural Montserrado to help positively shift the situation.
In addition to its mandates, WaterAid is tasked to coordinate and lead advocacy and lessons learned within the consortium and provide technical supports to the Liberia WASH Consortium.
These supports include Training of Trainers for sister partners, developing and delivering standardized packages and community training manuals that would allow the LWC to have and carry out a common WASH implementation approach at the community level.
On Tuesday, WaterAid Liberia organized and executed the first in a series of trainings for selected LWC WASH Field Officers and the Ministry of Health WASH Focal Persons in Grand Bassa and Rural Montserrado.
The training targeted 12 male and female participants, expected to pass on the skills in step-down sessions for community artisans and WASH committees in their respective counties.
Topics covered include Community Engagement Strategy, Formation/Activation of Community WASH Committees (CWCs), and Selection and Training of Hand Pump Caretakers (HPCs).
There were demonstrations in local sanitation product fabrication, latrine and well construction, and hand pump installation, coupled with a refresher in Community Action Planning (CAP) & WASH Resourcing – described by the LWC Board Representative at the session and the Country Director of WaterAid Liberia, Chuchu Selma as very critical to the success of the LWC.
“I encourage you to pass on this mantle of knowledge and make sure the ordinary citizens demonstrate the skills and take ownership of the facilities we are providing after we shall have left” said Selma.
The LWC Coordinator, Victor Ngorbu expressed satisfaction and mentioned that the efforts by the organizers and participants demonstrate a commitment to promoting sanitation and hygiene, especially in these critical times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facilitators George Nyarngo, Technical Support Lead; Mohammed Massaley, Urban Program Manager; and Pius Abdulai, Program Coordinator of WaterAid Liberia strongly emphasized adherence to traditional and cultural values as the participants engage the communities.
Most participants said the session allowed them to share and gain experience. Others said they networked and learned more about developments within the LWC and its contributions to the WASH sector of Liberia.
For Lemou Tarpeh, Montserrado County WASH Focal Person, the session was gender-inclusive. It highlighted issues that addressed some challenges marginalized people face when it comes to accessing clean and safe water.
“The facilitators told us to provide for the constant access to water in latrines because they benefit everyone, mainly women and girls, especially when it comes to menstrual hygiene.” – Lemou.