MONROVIA – 09 June 2023 – Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are essential for children and their families to live a healthy and prosperous life. Access to clean and safe drinking water is vital for children’s well-being. SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia is working with communities and partners to improve access to clean and safe drinking water in Buchanan, Grand Bassa.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and the WASH Commission in Grand Bassa County, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia rehabilitated 10 hand pumps in 9 communities in Buchanan to ensure over 35,000 residents have access to clean and safe drinking water.
13-year-old Nancy* is the youngest in her home. She supports the daily chores in her household, including fetching water and washing dishes. “Clean water is everything,” says Nancy. Nancy and the other children fetch water daily from wells that are 100-150 feet in depth and 6 inches in diameter using buckets tied with ropes on the handle. “Taking water from the well is very hard. The wells are deep and water is difficult to get,” Nancy narrated.
Fetching water from a 150-meter well posed many risks to Nancy and the other children, yet they had no choice. According to Nancy, community dwellers including her have been using wells for drinking, washing, and cooking, since the only hand pump in their community got damaged nearly 4 years ago.
More than 7,000 residents in the Old Field Community, Buchanan, where Nancy lives still rely heavily on water from hand dug wells for cooking, washing, bathing, and drinking. Old Field is approximately 7 minutes’ walk away from the Buchanan City administrative building. “Old Field is a big community. Access to safe drinking water has always been a challenge. Many families prioritized cooking, washing, and bathing with the insufficient water available at the time over drinking, says George Otto, head of WASH Commission in Grand Bassa.
The ongoing rainy season and the continuous flooding have severely disrupted access to clean water and basic sanitation. A bottle of 1.5 liters of water cost about One United States Dollar (US$1.00). With the high level of unemployment and poverty, a bottle of water is out of reach for many.
Addressing the water crisis in Buchanan in support of SDG-6
Many families in Old Field have suffered from prevalent health issues due to unsafe water conditions. Children and pregnant women are mostly victims of unsafe drinking water. Children and pregnant women suffer from waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, among others, due to the contamination of the water.
“During the dry season, there is a shortage of water. All the wells go dry, and the only available water is dirty, but we have no option but to drink the dirty water,” Nancy mother lamented. The lack of access to safe drinking water in the Old Field community causes frequent water-related illnesses.
“We knew the risk involved, but we never had an option because this was the only source of water for us. My daughter almost died from Cholera,” Nancy mother disclosed.
Relentlessly supporting a loving home for every child and family, SOS Children’s Villages will not stop until every child is healthy, protected, respected, and educated.
Sala, Nancy’s mother confirms that the rehabilitated hand pumps have increased access to clean and safe drinking water at the household level and reduce the risk of getting Cholera, typhoid fever and other diseases.
To ensure that the water facilities are well maintained, SOS Children’s Villages closely works with the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commission in Grand Bassa County.
Addressing the water crisis is part of the organization support toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-6). SOS Children’s Villages won’t stop until every child is healthy and protected.
Written by Joseph Joboe, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, Communication & Brand Coordinator
*Names changed to protect identity.