In our Monday, February 15 edition, we published a front page story captioned: Gov’t. Indicted: 75 percent of Liberians Lack Safe Drinking Water-PRS Implementation Slow.
In consonance with our front page lead story, we generally captured the inability of the Government of Liberia to adequately address the issue of basic social services, as spelt-out in its Lift Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy or PRS.
Our interest was not only to raise concern about health and education, but access to safe drinking water.As evidenced by the publication, it is an open fact that if one travels within the entire perimeter of the 43,000-square miles of Liberia, the realization would be that seven-five percent of the population is actually without safe drinking water.
In most towns and villages in the counties and even the outskirts of urban areas, running streams and rivers, as well as hand pumps are the main sources of drinking water. Whether safe or not, the inhabitants of these communities have no options, but to access these sources, bearing in mind that other than what is available, survival is slim.
What we cannot really comprehend has to do with the multiplicity of national and international non-governmental organizations, claiming to be working in the area of water and sanitation in these counties and urban areas, while this problem persists.
The international community, being cognizant of such an unfavorable situation, sometimes attributed to years of civil unrests in the country, have and continued to invest huge millions to ensure the safety of the Liberian people, but probably, the interests of individuals who run the NGOs charged with the responsibilities of making such endeavors a reality , superseded the people’s.
In some communities, as far as we are aware, these NGOs dig wells that are not even enough and suitable for the population and later abandoned them, complaining of the lack of funding to do follow ups, in terms of treatment.
Most frustratingly, the Health Ministry upon which we and our people rely for monitoring the activities of the groups seems relaxed, if not because of personal interests, or reluctance, owing to the fact that they have nothing to lose.
Because these Health Ministry Officials and senior staff responsible for this aspect of the PRS may feel better-off, in terms of what they have acquired and continued to enjoy in their various homes, they allow these NGOs to do whatever they feel like, once they present to them, voluminous reports on their activities without counter checking or even monitoring.
We are not even surprised at the Ministry of Health if we are to consider the situation with the caterpillar worms, which spread from the town of Bellefanai in Bong County in 2009 to other parts of Western Liberia.
From our own investigation, we are aware that the establishment of non-governmental organizations in Liberia nowadays is solely geared toward the economic empowerment and not necessarily ensuring the safety, growth and development of the down-trodden or have-nots, as is presented in attractive and voluminous project proposals.
And this is where our problem is with the donor community.
While we may not be abreast with their impact assessments in project areas of their local partners in Liberia, these international donor organizations and institutions, including those of the United Nations system, United States Agency for International Development, as well as the European Union, among others, must begin to put into place, if there’s non, independent monitoring mechanisms, unknown to their partners, for other accounts in terms of impact, of their millions’ worth.
This, we believe, will determine whether or not inhabitants of Liberian villages and towns, as well as other areas are truly graduating from the state of poverty.