The Evangelical Children Rehabilitation Program (ECREP), a local non-governmental organization working in Southeastern Region and other parts of Liberia has completed the construction of several latrine and hand pump facilities in ten public and private schools in Grand Gedeh County.
The schools with a population close to eleven thousand students have been in dire need of access to latrines and safe drinking water.
The facilities which were turned over to the various schools on January 17, 2013 were sponsored by UNICEF.
Speaking to the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia recently following the official turn-over ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of the Evangelical Children Rehabilitation Program (ECREP), G. Abraham Powell, said they are presently working in Gbarzohn and Tchien Districts, Grand Gedeh County.
Mr. Powell said over the past seven months, ECREP has been constructing latrines and hand pumps and at the same time establishing and training health club members in various schools. According to him, ECREP trained twenty five students in health hygiene promotion and hand washing, and they can ably take care of their respective campuses and environment in a clean and healthy manner.
Mr. Powell said ECREP has constructed 31 cubicles of latrines in 5 schools. They are the Sunhill Elementary & Jr. High School, Zwedru Methodist Elementary School, Myers Elementary School, Tian Elementary School, and Toe Memorial Elementary School.
He noted that ECREP has also turned over 2 newly hand-dug wells (hand pumps) constructed at the Tian Elementary School and Sunhill Elementary School.
According to him, his organization is rehabilitating a latrine at the Tubman Memorial Institute in Tchien District, Grand Gedeh County and 250 students have already been trained in basic health and good hygiene practices.
ECREP’s intervention in Grand Gedeh County is directed under the “School WASH Program” sponsored by UNICEF. UNICEF was present at the official turning over ceremony and applauded the work and services of ECREP.
Mr. Powell said one major issue that led to their intervention in Grand Gedeh is the “Situation of WASH Activities” in various schools.
According to him, Most of the schools don’t have latrines and safe water facilities, resulting to students and others taking the risk by going to the bushes especially to defecate and fetch unsafe water. He said this situation usually leads to Diarrhea and other water-related diseases.
Mr. Powell said there are so many needs of various schools and communities that lack access to safe drinking water and latrine facilities, and pledged his organization’s preparedness with the support of others to intervene.
“We have a qualified staff to implement WASH activities” Mr. Powell asserted. He commanded UNICEF for the support and called on others to emulate similar good example to address crucial WASH problems in the Southeastern Region which comprises GrandGedeh, River Gee, Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Rivercess Counties.
Mr. Powell also named the lack of good roads as one of the major challenges facing implementation of projects in the Southeast. "The road are so bad during the Rainy Season, thereby impeding transportation and service delivery", the ECREP CEO indicated.
He appealed to the government to prioritize the rehabilitation and construction of roads during the Dry Season to ensure easy access to especially counties in the Southeast.
The ECREP Chief Executive Officer also urged local residents to change their mindset and always strive to remain supportive of community initiatives in the interest of development.