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Liberia hosts Regional Water Integrity Conference

By Augustine N. Myers
 Regional Stakeholders in Water Integrity training in Monrovia
Regional Stakeholders in Water Integrity training in Monrovia

 (mylbsonline.com/Liberia)-A weeklong training of Stakeholders in the Water Sector has opened in Monrovia, bringing together participants from Liberia, Nigeria and the Gambia.

The stakeholders training is geared at ensuring the Promotion of Water Integrity in Sub-Saharan Africa,

About 30 participants are undergoing the training at a local hotel in Congo Town, outside the Liberian Capital, Monrovia.

The Regional Water Integrity Capacity Building Program in Sub-Saharan Africa is being sponsored by the Water Integrity Network and ECOWAS’ Water Resource Coordination Center (WRC), among other international partners.

A release from the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia says: “The training is jointly organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).

According to the release, the training is the third in a series of five regional capacity development workshops on water integrity for the West African Region.

The training got under recently and seeks to, among other things, address corruption issues said to be very severe in the various water resource management sectors of African countries.

The release quotes WIN Program Coordinator for Francophone and English Capacity Building, Franciose Nicole Ndoume, as having said: “Water is a fundamental resource for sustainable development and is essential to eradicating poverty and, securing food and energy.”

“In most countries, water crises are not due to resource scarcity, rather primarily to governance failures.”

Madam Ndoume made the statements when she addressed the official opening of the stakeholders training in Monrovia.

Quoting the Global Corruption Report of Transparency International and Water Integrity Network, she noted: “Almost US$48 billion are diverted every year from the sector, because of corrupt practices.”

“It is high time to take a line of action and reverse the status quo so that funds for the Water Service Delivery worldwide, particularly in Africa, are utilized for the correct purposes,” Madam Ndoume emphasized.

She added: “It is with the view to reversing this situation that ECOWAS, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) are, with the help of their partners, implementing the capacity-building programme to ensure that water integrity ambassadors are built.”

“Fragmented institutions obstruct accountability in a sector with high investment and aid flows. This makes the water sector particularly vulnerable to corruption,” the WIN Program Coordinator for Francophone and English Capacity Building said.

“Lack of water-related integrity incurs huge cost for societies, especially relating to the loss of lives and degraded resources, just to mention a few.”
  
Among other things, the overall objective of the training program is to develop capacities of different stakeholder groups and government levels to improve transparency and accountability practices in the water sector in Africa.

On personal level, the training will strengthen water sector stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of corruption, its risk and ways to promote good practices and to put in place integrity mechanisms.

On the operational level, it will strengthen water sector actors’ capacities to ensure integrity in their daily work within their organisations.

Regionally, it will encourage and stimulate dialogue, and learning how corruption can be addressed in the water sector at regional and national levels, drawing on local experiences for new appropriate approaches.

Furthermore, it will build the capacities of RECs and other regional actors to work with integrity issues in the water sector with their members and member states.

Madam Ndoume added: “Working towards water integrity requires concrete actions, including using and expanding existing networks and building new alliances between sectors.”

She noted: “It is aimed at developing a broad consensus on water integrity, and to use multiple communication channels to raise awareness for issues and available solutions.”

“It also requires encouraging organizations to consider water integrity in the development of organizational policies, strategies and action plans; investing in inclusive multi-stakeholder processes that foster collaboration beyond the water sector.”

“It also requires engaging user organizations, investors, planning authorities and core governance institutions at country level to join reform agendas, the WIN executive pointed out,” Madam Ndoume said.

A facilitator at the workshop, Daniel K. Yawson, said: “The main purpose of this training is to create ‘water integrity ambassadors’ in each of the participating countries.”

He emphasized: “Corruption is a serious challenge in the WASH sector. Every country has neither established effective water management policies nor invested required resources to make the sector effective.”

“At the end of the day we believe that the sector will improve when the participants get back home. There will be improvement in policies and in practical steps adapted so that whatever little money that comes to the sector will be properly managed for results,” he also noted.

“I believe the change will be possible, because those participating in the training are part of the decision makers in the sector in their respective countries.”

Many of the participants noted: “The sector in our respective countries still fragmented, while there is lack of political will either by action, or by inaction in supporting and strengthening the sector. Several water-related projects are political. This means the projects lack durability and sustainability.”

They described Training as vital and said: “It will help hold Regional leaders accountable to pay more attention to the WASH sector.

“We first need to understand the issue, and that’s the essence of the training.” With this fresh knowledge, our advocacy will also be strengthened, and that’s why we want to applaud the sponsors for this week-long training,” the participants stressed.

 


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