The water, sanitation, and hygiene sector in Liberia faces governance, capacity, and finance constraints that hinder access to improved water and sanitation. Government responsibilities for the sector are spread across eight ministries and institutions with different mandates, while no regulatory authority exists to set and enforce sector standards. Public institutions have an inadequate number of staff in key positions, while government financial spending in the sector has not kept pace with even modest budget allocations. These compounding factors in the midst of post-conflict and post-Ebola epidemic recovery efforts have limited people’s access to drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene, and have led to an over-reliance on donor funding. As a result, only 70 percent of Liberians have access to basic drinking water, and 17 percent to basic sanitation.
In support of the Government of Liberia’s WASH Sector Strategic Plan, USAID is investing in comprehensive WASH programming to help Liberia achieve its water and sanitation goals (subject to the availability of funds). USAID focuses on addressing water infrastructure and sanitation service gaps, strengthening government institutions, and promoting essential hygiene behaviors through community-based health activities. Key portfolio themes include promoting gender equality, strengthening governance, managing urbanization, and recovering from the Ebola epidemic. Through the Liberia Municipal Water Project (LMWP), for example, USAID is providing improved access to water supplies access to 90 percent of the population in three County capitals with infrastructure managed by locally based entities that have the financial and technical capacity to sustain the service. In addition, through direct support to the Ministry of Health, USAID is also strengthening the institutionalization and scale-up of behavior change and hygiene promotion interventions in health systems and programs, which complement the Mission’s community health activities. Support to the Ministry of Health will facilitate investment in WASH infrastructure in health facilities to provide quality service delivery in USAID-focused geographic locations.
Other U.S. government activities further advance the Global Water Strategy in Liberia, including USAID’s Food for Peace Development Food Assistance Project funding and HHS/CDC activities. For example, drawing on unique expertise, HHS/CDC is evaluating and renovating WASH facilities at two County hospitals, and training staff to conduct quality control assessments on a locally produced chlorine solution to purify water.
USAID is the largest bilateral donor in the WASH sector in Liberia, and closely coordinates with other key development partners in Liberia, including Ireland, the African Development Bank, UNICEF, and the World Bank. All investments are harmonized through a coordination platform for development partners that works to ensure funds are non-duplicative.
Overall, these activities are estimated to provide 80,000 Liberians with sustainable access to basic water supplies, and help more than 3,600 people gain access to basic sanitation services by 2019.