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Clean and safe drinking water for families and children in Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia, 22 March 2010 – Liberia joined the world today in celebrating the 8th World Water Day under the theme 'Clean water for a Healthy World.'

Marking the occasion, the President of Liberia, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also the Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa, called on the nations of Africa and the world to redouble efforts and action to ensure safe and clean water for the present and future generations. 

Liberia is still recovering from the 14-year civil war that destroyed much of the country’s water supply infrastructure.

Water-borne diseases are the second leading causes of child mortality in the world and in Liberia, one child in eight dies before reaching the age of five, many of these deaths caused by diarrhoea and other water borne diseases.

The 2007 Demographic and Health Survey showed that only two-third of Liberians have access to safe drinking water sources.

"Disease and death is not the only hazard people in poor countries face. Women and children are the most likely to bear the economic and educational costs associated with unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. Many hours are unnecessarily lost – hours that women could be used to engage in income-generating activities; hours that children could spend in school; hours that could be spent living a healthy and dignified life," said President Sirleaf through a video statement broadcast during the day. 

New Kru Town, a densely populated suburb of Monrovia, was one of the venues for the World Water Day event organized by the government and partners. 

With a population of about 9500 people, New Kru Town is one of the cholera hotspots in Monrovia, particularly due to insufficient supply of safe and clean drinking water.

The area has just two water wells which are always over crowded. 

"Making water safe to drink is a key priority for UNICEF in order to improve the health of children, women, and all Liberians, and prevent unnecessary sickness and death. UNICEF is working with the Government and partners to make 'Clean Water for a Healthy World,' a reality in Liberia," said Hamidou Maiga, the water and sanitation specialist from UNICEF. 

"Let me speak to the children of the community, since they are the ones who get most sick by drinking [unsafe] water," said Dr. Eugene Shannon, Hon’ble Minister of the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy during his key note address at the event. Minister Shannon talked with the children and families on the importance of washing hands before food and after toilet and drinking only safe and clean water to stay healthy and free from diseases and death.

The World Water Day 2010 events in Liberia was also used to raise awareness on WaterGuardTM, a chorine based household water treatment product which was launched in Liberia last September.

The product is being socially marketed by PSI Liberia. UNICEF is supporting the government and civil society partners in improving water quality testing systems, and the supply of WaterGuard.

So far 60,000 bottles of WaterGuardTM have been supplied to six counties: enough to make over 18 million gallons of water safe to drink.

Liberia is likely to achieve MDG 7 Target 10 (access to safe drinking water) with special efforts and continued support from partners.

The country has prioritized water and sanitation delivery in their development agenda and the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

It aims to increase access to safe drinking water from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2012 (including 45 percent of the rural population); increase access to human waste collection and disposal facilities from 15 percent to 40 percent (including 35 percent of the rural population); and ensure sustainability of 90 percent of water and sanitation facilities in the country.

For more information, please contact:
Miraj Pradhan, UNICEF Liberia, Tel: (+231) 6 282 074, email: mpradhan@unicef.org

 

 
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