Amidst acute water shortage in Monrovia and parts adjacent characterized by containers toting residents scavenging for the priceless commodity in street corners, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors has reportedly approved US$10 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to increase access to piped water supply services in the capital and surrounding areas. The credit is also intended to improve the operational efficiency of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC).
The Liberia Urban Water Supply Project (LUWSP) which targets 63,000 direct beneficiaries, 44 percent of which are females, will facilitate critical repairs, rehabilitation of existing distribution network and extension to new areas with additional customers.
According to a press release, the project will also facilitate new connections, more hours of water supply, fewer interruptions in water service and closer proximity to safe water supply sources.
Project beneficiaries of the LUWSP comprise residents of Central Monrovia, Somalia Drive, Duport Road and Roberts International Airport Highway. The construction work will create job opportunities for Liberians and improve access to services and living conditions. Communities with large percentage of poor households that are unable to afford private household connections will benefit from construction of standpipes or kiosks. The LWSC will also develop a rate-payment scheme to allow these poorer households to finance connection fees over a longer period.
World Bank Country Manager for Liberia IngunaDobraja said, the project constitutes an important step towards implementing the Government’s Agenda for Transformation and post-Ebola Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan, which emphasizes urgent need to improve water and sanitation service delivery in Liberia.
The task team leaders Deo- Marcel Niyungeko noted that the World Bank’s intervention will fund critical rehabilitation of existing network, as well as invest in the extension of LWSC’s distribution capacity in order to supply more Liberians with safe water, while boosting revenue generation for the LWSC.
The LUWSP will reduce water losses and improve water flows to Central Monrovia, as well as address urgent rehabilitation needs along Somalia Drive and in Central Monrovia to restore water supply in the city center. Key transmission lines along Duport Road, Somalia Drive and Roberts International Airport highway will be rehabilitated or extended to reduce bottlenecks and create backup capacity in these areas.
Furthermore, the installation of bulk meters across the network will allow the LWSC to set up district metered areas to track and address non-revenue water more effectively, according to the release.
Over 10 years after the cessation of hostilities and restoration of democratic governance here, safe or piped water remains a scarce commodity across Liberia with residents largely relying on hand pumps and unchlorinated wells to fetch drinking water at the risk of diseases.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne