Water, sanitation and hygiene

Liberia has abundant water resources, but close to 90% of its population has limited access to safe drinking water.

LBR_WASH_School_children_washing_hands
UNICEF/2017/Jallanzo

The challenge

Abundant in rivers, rainforests, mangroves and swamps, Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world. But it lacks in infrastrucutre and services to reach everyone with safe drinking water.

Sanitation is very poor, with the vast majority of people in rural areas lacking decent toilets and latrines, and having to defecate in the open instead. About 42 per cent of Liberia population practices open defecation according to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 (JMP 2017).

All in all, less than 10 per cent of Liberians have access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services, according to the JMP 2017.

Securing access to safe water and adequate sanitation for all would go a long way in reducing infection, disease and death.

However, Liberia’s high rates of diarrheal diseases and childhood malnutrition, as well as frequent outbreaks of cholera, show how young children suffer when they don’t have access to the basics of life.

The recent Ebola outbreak has also highlighted the risks associated with inadequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to prevent or stop the spread of diseases.

For school-going children, the lack of WASH facilities in schools spreads disease and results in missed days of learning. For girls who have started to menstruate, the absence of separate girls/boys bathrooms discourages them from coming to school on menstrual days and contributes to drop-out.

Abundant in rivers, rainforests, mangroves and swamps, Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world. Yet, a large proportion of the population does not have access to clean drinking water.

UNICEF Support to the Solution

Investments in safe water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene practices go a long way towards improving children’s health and education.

In Liberia, UNICEF is supporting the government to increase the coverage of WASH services in rural and urban communities, schools and health facilities.

At the national level, the capacity of WASH-related institutions is being strengthened so that they can plan and implement the scale up of WASH services across the country.

Building national systems is complemented by work at the community level, which involves implementing low-cost and high impact approaches to improve sanitation and hygiene, such as Community Led Total Sanitation. 

To increase access to safe water for families, UNICEF supports water quality surveillance, household water treatment and storage and maintenance of boreholes and other water sources.

UNICEF also provides technical support to the government’s emergency preparedness and response during natural and humanitarian disasters.