By Stephen G Fellajuah
MONROVIA: As steps to end open defecation in the country gets underway, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs Paulita CC Wie has expressed the need for the establishment and enforcement of a law that will make ending open defecation an offense. The intent of such a law, she said, is to reduce public health and sanitation disasters being faced with and to promote hygiene in Liberia.
Deputy Minister Wie told reporters that it is very important to make the eradication of open defecation mandatory through an appropriate instrument in the country to be enforced. Madam Wie spoke in a special interview with journalists yesterday, Wednesday, at the end of a three-day Countywide Sanitation Activity (CWSA) symposium.
Held at the DEN- L facility outside Gbanga City in Bong County on July 17-19, the symposium which involved business partners’ orientation training was organized with the goal of ensuring that open defecation is eradicated through awareness and the use of household basic improved modern toilets newly launched.
“We actually wanted to make open defecation mandatory, but it’s just that you can’t just allow the baby to start walking. Therefore, we are doing training and awareness for this five years after which project we hope to see open defecation eradicated mandatorily. This will save Liberia and our population,” the Internal Affairs Minister noted.
She disclosed, however, that there is a policy document on ending open defecation in Liberia and explained that the policy document is being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, WASH, Public Work, Ministry of Health, Environmental Protection Agency and National Public Health Institute of Liberia, according to the Minister.
“We hope that in years to come, that is something we are anticipating doing to make open defecation mandatory,” she further explained, although she said the government cannot just start to enforce the policy immediately.
Madam Wie therefore said, “So what we are doing is to provide more training and sanitation awareness to our people on the importance of having toilets in our homes,” adding “We hope that in five years, the prevalence of open defecation will end.”
the Internal Affairs official’s comment was made to journalists following conclusion of three-day symposium of a CountyWide Sanitation Activity Project by Gusceman, a local Liberian business development and support service consultant, in partnership with Concern Worldwide, Anthena Infonomic and PSI, on July 19, 2023.
The three-day CountyWide Sanitation Activity Project symposium focused on business partners orientation aimed at eradicating open defecation through awareness and the construction of affordable improved toilets in Liberia. .
The initiative implemented by Guscema was organized under the auspices of the CWSA project with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Accordingly, the five-year USAID funded project, which started last year October seeks to end open defecation in five counties, to include Bong, Nimba, Lofa, rural Montserrado and Grand Bassa Counties.
The first phase of the initiative, according to the conveners, brought together over seventy five participants from across the business sector.
Giving the overview of the training and presentation earlier, Gusceman General Manager Emmanuel Diabolo explained that the forum is intended to educate and train entrepreneurs from the five counties about the importance and significance of the adoption of the basic improved toilet system.
According to Mr. Diabolo, the new improved toilet is a rubber made one that is affordable and accessible with the aim of making the product accessible to the population of the targeted counties.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Water Sanitation and Hygiene Commission, Mr. Bobby Whitfield, lauded the Countywide Sanitation Activity for the initiative.
“This government is very concerned about ending open defecation in Liberia,” he maintained, saying “And this starts with the purchasing of this new product which is affordable.”
With this, he said he can assure Liberians that after this five years project, we will end open defecation in the entire country.
He emphasized that the project has four result areas which include improving governance of the sanitation sector in Liberia and adopting good sanitation practices.