USAID, C4H Applaud Establishment of WASH Standing Committee

USAID, C4H Applaud Establishment of WASH Standing Committee
USAID, C4H Applaud Establishment of WASH Standing Committee

Africa-Press – Liberia. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Countywide Sanitation Activity (CWSA) and its national partner, Compassion for Humanity (C4H)-Liberia, has expressed gratitude to House Speaker, Fonati Koffa and members of the House of Representatives for establishing the WASH Standing Committee within the 55th Legislature.

This committee responds to the longstanding calls from the WASH sector for a national oversight body within the Legislature. CWSA aims to eliminate open defecation in Liberia by focusing on four key areas: improving sanitation governance, promoting key sanitation behaviors, strengthening the sanitation market, and increasing sanitation financing.

The project is managed by a consortium led by Population Services International (PSI), with partners including Concern Worldwide, Athena Infonomics, and Gusceman, Inc.

The WASH sector faces significant challenges, such as fragmentation among state institutions responsible for WASH services, limited political will for enforcing regulatory authority, inadequate state resources allocated to the sector, and a lack of standalone sanitation policy.

These issues have negatively impacted public health and the economy, especially in densely populated communities. Currently, over 25% of Liberia’s population lacks access to safe water, and only 17% have access to improved sanitation services. The country loses US$17.5 million annually because of poor sanitation effects on public health and productivity.

Stakeholders agree that these challenges persist because of the lack of legislative frameworks providing oversight and fiduciary responsibilities for the WASH sector. This has driven advocacy efforts leading to the establishment of the WASH Standing Committee.

A consultative meeting is scheduled for May 29 in the House of Representatives conference room to bring together committee members and sector stakeholders.

This meeting will familiarize participants with the committee’s terms of reference, align expectations, and clarify roles and responsibilities to address sector challenges effectively.

In 2023, under the USAID-sponsored CWSA, the PSI-led consortium awarded Compassion for Humanity (C4H) a grant to lead advocacy initiatives. This grant aimed to formalize the WASH Legislative Caucus into a Standing Committee.

C4H coordinated with national and subnational stakeholders to advocate for this establishment, marking a structural response to the sector’s challenges. On April 9, 2024, the House of Representatives established the Standing Committee on WASH and Environment.

C4H’s advocacy efforts, alongside consultations with the WASH Legislative Caucus, WASH Consortium, relevant government ministries, agencies, civil society organizations, and development partners, were instrumental in this achievement.

These efforts highlighted gaps in the WASH sector, such as the heavy reliance on donor funding and sector fragmentation. These insights led to accelerated efforts to formalize the WASH Caucus into a Standing Committee, giving it legal status and a statutory mandate under Liberian law.

CWSA and C4H recognize the leadership of Standing Committee Chairman, Representative Anthony F. Williams of District #2, Maryland County, and Co-Chairman Thomas A. Goshua, Representative of District #5, Grand Bassa County.

They acknowledge the collective support of development partners, MACs, CSOs, and WASH stakeholders in this endeavor. In recognition of this milestone, C4H Liberia, in collaboration with the WASH Standing Committee Secretariat and Liberia CSOs WASH Network, is organizing the meeting.

Compassion for Humanity (C4H) Liberia is a national NGO dedicated to promoting democratic governance, human rights, gender equality, women’s political participation, youth empowerment, and public policy engagement. They also focus on building the internal capacity of C4H Liberia and other partner CSOs and CBOs.

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