The Chairperson of the Liberia NGOs Network, George Kayah, and participants at the just ended Citizens Engagement Dialogue Forum have criticized the Government of Liberia for boycotting the forum. Boycott of the forum by government officials is unhealthy for efforts in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector of the country Kayah expressed. He said action on the part of these officials is counterproductive to the aspiration of the Liberian people.
In an effort to make what he termed necessary changes, Mr. Kayah encouraged Liberians to engage national leaders on issues affecting them. He underscored that advocating for change is a constitutional right under the laws of Liberia. Giving an overview of the dialogue, Liberia NGOs Network Chairperson said, securing access to WASH services for a growing and demanding population will create job opportunities for citizens.
Mr. Kayah said the forum is intended to give citizens first-hand information on the current state of affairs of WASH service delivery in the country. The LINNK Chairperson noted that some progress have been made through WASH’s advocacy by local NGOs to solve issues of fragmentation as well as lack of financing. He named a bill passed by the House of Representatives calling for the establishment of a commission on WASH and a budgetary allocation in the fiscal budget as some of the achievements in the sector.
Describing water as a source of life, LINNK’s Agriculture Coordinator, Winston Carter, said water ought to be given all necessary attention by relevant government institutions. Mr. Carter encouraged participants, including students to ensure that vital information provided to them be used as tool for advocacy.
Speaking on behalf of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia, the Advocacy and Communication Officer, D. Sonpon Weah, reminded Liberians of their rights to have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. Mr. Weah called on the GOL to remain proactive, ensuring that WASH is improved in Liberia for those underprivileged to have access to WASH’s facilities. Participants commended the Liberia NGOs Network and LINNK for taking on initiatives to host such forum. The group said the forum has provided them vital information concerning the status, challenges and achievements made in the Liberian sector.
The Citizens Engagement Dialogue Forum was supported by a British charity, Water Aid, as part of its advocacy program in Liberia to improved WASH services delivery in the country. The forum was held under the theme, “Water for Sustainable Growth.” It was in line with the celebration of the 2016 World Water Week held in Stockholm, Sweden. This according to reports is an ongoing effort by Liberia’s WASH sector actors aimed at creating an enabling environment for water, sanitation and hygiene. The forum focused on efforts by local WASH actors putting in place governance for the sector and making budgetary appropriation for water and sanitation in the national budget of the country.