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Global Communities and Chevron Working to Improve Sanitation in Liberia

Published 05/20/2014 by Global Communities

Global Communities and Chevron Working to Improve Sanitation in Liberia
This story originally appeared in the Chevron Liberia Newsletter, April 2014.

Representatives from Logan Town and Global Communities celebrate the opening of the community latrine facility.
Global Communities, formerly named CHF, is a non-governmental organization that helps communities build capacity to improve lives. In Liberia, they implement the Youth Engagement in Service Delivery (YES) program, which trains youth in the sanitation business; collaborates with Goldman Sachs to implement a women’s entrepreneurship program; and partnered with Chevron Liberia Limited (CLL) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide latrine facilities in several urban communities in and around Monrovia through a program called Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IWASH).
Limited access to public toilet facilities is a challenge across liberia, particularly in urban areas. With more than half the population living in the capital city of Monrovia, open defecation (OD) is a common practice. The IWASH program is addressing this problem, conducting behavior change activities in order to convince Liberians to change their sanitation practices and take responsibility for making improvement necessary in their communities to become OD-free.
According to a 2012 desk study by the water and sanitation program (wsp), open defecation costs Liberia US $11 million- yet the problem could be solved with the building of 350,000 latrines. Also, fecal contamination of the environment is the root cause of an annual average of 2800 cases of cholera affecting Liberia. The estimated WASH response is US$ 1.8 million each year. In addition to this cost is another US $1.9 million lost each year in Access Time as persons practicing open defecation spend 2.5 days a year identifying a private location to defecate. Women are most affected as they are responsible for young children and the elderly.
The program focuses on three key areas, one of which is maternal and child health. Participating in programs that bring capacity to communities and organizations to effect positive change in the survival rate of children is a high priority for Chevron.
The company partnered with Global Communities to open its first modern latrine facility in the New Georgia Estate at the New Georgia Market in 2012. The well-designed facility is attuned to the needs of the beneficiaries in the area. Separate shower stalls are installed on opposite sides of the structure so that men and women have privacy. Signs encouraging proper hand washing techniques are visible throughout the facility. The bathroom stalls are kept clean and hygienic for the residents who have come to rely on it.
The facility is managed by a local Liberian company who generates an income by charging a small fee to patrons. The company ensures water, toilet paper, and soap is always available. Being in a high traffic area, several shifts are necessary requiring the need for additional staff, which contributes to the sustainability of the project and provides local employment, another focus area for Chevron.
A second latrine facility was opened in Logan Town in June 2013 and has seen even more traffic than the New Georgia location. Residents of Logan Town embraced the new facility, and with Global Communities guidance, engaged in a grass roots effort to inform their neighbors on living healthier lives through better sanitation and hygiene practices.
In his remarks at the opening of the Logan Town facility, Chevron Country Manager Karl Cottrell said the lack of access to sanitation and its effects on world health is a common issue faced by many countries in the world. Also that Chevron was happy to partner with Global Communities to address the impact of cholera and dysentery on children which is the result of poor sanitation. He then stressed the need for monitoring and evaluation of the facilities to encourage proper maintenance and safety conditions.
Because the need is great in so many communities, he said Chevron will fund three additional latrines in the Monrovia and Paynesville areas.
Global Communities Country Director Piet deVries explained how the latrine projects compliment the Government of Liberia’s goal of improving the country’s water and sanitation situation. CLL is proud to join Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is the current Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for Africa and the government of Liberia in aggressively tackling the issue of sanitation. It is through these efforts that Liberians will gain access to improved sanitation and hygiene.