President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has emphasized the need to have a full functional and comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in all Liberian schools, President Sirleaf said work must be done to ensure that Liberian schools experience 100 percent WASH programs within the next two years, thereby reversing the lack of proper water, sanitation and hygiene in all schools that have plagued the society despite tremendous efforts to improve these conditions.
A Dispatch from Brussels, Belgium, said the Liberian leader made the assertion on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at a forum organized by the Liberian Government and OXFAM for donors and partners to generate support towards improving the health, and WASH programs in schools in Liberia.
She said the Ebola virus disease outbreak made it imperative for an assessment of the country’s delivery systems in all sectors and the need for improvement and modernization of the healthcare delivery system to be able to withstand any resurgence of such disease in the future.
She called on donors and partners to join forces to support the government’s efforts to upgrade Liberian schools with water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as thousands of children across the country returned to school for the first time in six months.
Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, who made a presentation on the current WASH program across the country, called for the acceleration of the water, sanitation and hygiene programs in all Liberian schools. He exhibited a slide-show of the existing WASH programs across the country.
Minister Konneh said the introduction and maintenance of hygiene protocols in schools is very important, adding that a recent survey on WASH programs in schools across the country reported that about 55 percent of the schools have no water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
He said only few schools have hand washing facilities, which were introduced as a result of the Ebola virus outbreak. The Finance boss said the WASH facilities will keep the students in schools and keep them healthy, thus making them agents of change and healthier and stronger to attend schools.
OXFAM Chief Executive Officer, Mark Goldring, said, the WASH program is significant in dealing with diseases and how they can be spread. However, he cautioned that Ebola is not over and all must continue to ensure that the disease is eliminated, stressing that the appeal for water, sanitation and hygiene in all schools will boost Liberia’s educational performance and will be a lasting post-Ebola legacy to its children.
The OXFAM CEO noted that during his recent visit to Liberia, he saw empty classrooms and a need for parents to see their children back in school. He said having children returned to school is vital, but without safe water, sanitation and hygiene, they would not be able to go back to school.
Mr. Goldring said getting children in school is the first and foremost concern of all, adding that OXFAM will continue to work with the Liberian government in strengthening its water, sanitation and hygiene program in schools.