Since 2008 Ireland has supported the efforts of the Liberia WASH Consortium - a grouping of five international non-governmental organizations including Oxfam GB, Tearfund, Concern Worldwide, Action Contre la Faim and Water Aid, -to improve the health status of the population through increased access to water and sanitation services.
From August 2015 to July 2016, the Consortium has implemented the project “Resumption of Sustainable WASH Programming in Liberia”, to address the issue of the poor quality of health and hygiene in schools and communities, in terms of water and sanitation (WASH) infrastructure, referral systems, and education.
Cross-section of a joint community group discussion held in the Kwaituo Juaryen Town-Sinoe County
The project reached a population of approximately 50,763 (of whom 50 % were female beneficiaries) in 5 remote counties (Sinoe, R.cess, Lofa, Rural Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount). Pre-Ebola, these target counties had particularly high rates of chronic malnutrition coupled with low access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Three of them (Grand Cape Mount, Lofa and Montserrado) were also critically impacted by the Ebola outbreak, while the other two had and continue to have low access to water and sanitation.
“The training on Community Led Total Sanitation has made us to live in a pupu-free community, we are happy for the Irish Aid support”- a community leader from Sinoe explained to the Irish Aid Health and WASH Advisor during a monitoring visit – “before people used to go to the bushes to toilet, but now we have real locally made toilets. Before we had to walk long distance to get water from the creek, but now we can use the community well”.
Testing for efficiency and quality; a newly constructed hand dug well in the Nyenpo Barry Community- Sinoe County
Through its local partners, the Consortium built two pit toilets in two health clinics, constructed three new wells at one health clinic and two communities and rehabilitated six wells in six communities. Beyond the construction of this basic infrastructure, the Consortium has worked with community members and local authorities to trigger long term behavioural changes, by empowering local committees to take care of the facilities themselves and raising awareness on healthy practices. Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a strategy that has been used in Liberia to allow communities improve on proper disposal of human waste, by locally constructing their own latrines per home.
A key lesson from the Ebola outbreak is the importance of building the resilience of the communities and the school system to reduce the likelihood and impacts of diseases and epidemics in the future.