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USAID Expands Access To Safe Drinking Water In Liberia

The U.S. Agency for International Development/Liberia (USAID/Liberia) on November 1, 2022 awarded the improved access to safe drinking water in Liberia Activity, implemented by Winrock International, in partnership with WaterAid and FEI Consulting LLC. 

Made possible by the assistance of the American people, this five-year, US$17.9 million project aims to elevate 100,000 Liberians in Montserrado and Margibi counties to a basic level of water services by strengthening water sector governance, thus creating scalable models for equitable water service delivery, and mobilizing collaborative action to implement a vision where all Liberians access, use, and demand clean water services.

The project, according to a USAID release will also support the local government and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) as they transition the operations and management of three water treatment plants in the cities of Robertsport, Sanniquelle, and Voinjama to private sector management.

The importance of the project is emboldened in observerance of World Water Day 2023 with a theme advocating for “Accelerating Change via Partnerships and Cooperation”. This year’s World Water Day theme recognizes the challenges Liberians and many other people in the world face, and the time is running out to achieve the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

One out of five people in Montserrado and Margibi counties still lack access to basic drinking water services, meaning tens of thousands of residents rely on unimproved sources, such as unprotected wells, springs, or surface water.

Though the country has national laws and policies in place to deliver water services; the challenge is how to roll out these policies to make services work for the poor.

Additionally, local government institutions at the county, district, and local levels need technical assistance and training to better plan, manage, and monitor the delivery of improved water services, in accordance with the mandate provided to decentralized institutions in the Local Government Act passed in 2018.

Paulita Wie, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, stated, “It is our hope that inclusive, safe, affordable, and sustainable water delivery will reach our cities, towns, villages, chiefdoms, and the 15 counties of Liberia, most especially people in the slums or poor communities. We will also continue to advocate for more transparency, accountability, and resources for sustainable management.

“As we celebrate this World Water Day, let us build more resilience, collaboration, and partnership with other government ministries, agencies, and commissions, the private sector, civil society organizations, local government authorities, the communities, and other local partners as we collectively increase access to safe drinking water across Liberia,” she added.

The Chief Executive Officer of the National WASH Commission, Bobby Whitfiel noted, “The commemoration of World Water Day 2023 is about accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis at all levels, from community to national to continental and global scales. This is so important because water affects us all, and we need everyone to take action in a positive way.”

“This project is timely, and we are excited to contribute towards supporting the Government of Liberia’s commitment to increase access to water and sanitation services in alignment with its 2018-2023 Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” added Doris Kaberia, the project’s Chief of Party. “to accelerate change, we must continue to empower women, who are critical in ensuring sustained water service delivery.”

When asked about the importance of water in her life, Ms. Anne Brown, a mother of five children and the community chairperson of Zinc Camp in Todee district. Safe and accessible drinking water means a lot to me and my family. I do not let my children miss their classes to fetch water for the family.”

“They drink clean water, remain healthy, and go to school regularly. I have more time to look after my family and do not waste my time caring for ill family members. With safe water in my neighborhood,” she continued, “I can drink a cup of clean water, quench my thirst, and remain healthy for one more day.”

As the world celebrates World Water Day on March 22nd, the USAID Improved Safe Drinking Water in Liberia Activity reflects on the continued effort of USAID and the American people to support sustainable and locally managed solutions to provide safe drinking water services to the people of Liberia.

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