Liberia's President and Africa's Water Ambassador, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has disclosed that three million people in South-Saharan Africa (including her country Liberia) lack access to safe drinking water on the continent.
She added that besides, 787 million people the World over lack access to safe drinking water.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of two-day Joint Ministerial Water and Sanitation (WASH) High level Meeting between Liberia and Sierra Leone in Monrovia, President Sirleaf noted that reports have revealed that diarrhea is responsible for 17.5% of all under-five deaths in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.
President Sirleaf said since 2000, a lot has been achieved in the provision of safe drinking water in Liberia.
She noted that both countries (Liberia and Sierra Leone) have made progress in the provision of water and sanitation.
Also speaking at the program, the Minister of Health of Sierra Leone, Madam Idaja Zanah Hawa Bangura, expressed thanks and appreciation on behalf of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Kromah.
She added that President Kromah belief that meeting on Water and Sanitation is the great opportunity for both countries of the Mano River Union as they strive to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene services experienced by their citizens.
Madam Bangura also noted that it is a big challenge for Sierra Leone. She said a country with over six million people, about 32% lack access to safe drinking water.
She added that less than 50% of Sierra Leoneans lack access to sanitation, adding that her government, under the leadership of President Kromah, is taking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene head-on.
Liberia is hosting the high level joint-ministerial meeting on water and sanitation between the Government of Liberia and Sierra Leone from 21-22nd March 2012.
The meeting is being conducted to prepare for the global Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) initiative meeting in Washington DC to be held from 19 to 20 April 2012.
The two-day meeting in Monrovia will also facilitate exchange of valuable ideas and lessons learnt by the two West African nations towards their quest for providing basic water and sanitation facilities for its people, especially the poor.
The first day of the meeting will review existing water policy and strategies of the two countries and also the progress and challenges faced by the WASH sector in the two countries.
Case studies such as the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) experience and decentralization of WATSAN facilities in Sierra Leone will be presented. Liberia will also share its experiences in WASH sector coordination and other good practices.
On 22nd March 2012, the outcome of the high level meeting will be presented in the presence of the President of Liberia - Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Since the day also marks the international World Water Day, a short drama on the theme – 'Water and Food Security' will be staged for the workshop participants.
The high level delegation from Government of Sierra Leone will be represented by the four ministers from the Ministry of Water and Energy; Ministry of Health and Sanitation; Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Local Government.