Liberia has unveiled a five-year investment plan which outlines priorities for rebuilding the country’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.

The sector was ravaged by decades of civil conflict as access to water and sanitation services in the country  is still low and many facilities are no longer functioning as the nation strives to  recover from years of war that ended in 2003.  Four out of every ten people still lack access to water, and only a third of the population have access to sanitation services.

An estimated 35 percent of existing clinics and schools do not have adequate water and sanitation facilities. Solid waste management services are only available in Monrovia City, covering an estimated 55 percent of the solid waste in the capital, a release from World Bank Liberia indicated..

“The Sector Investment Plan being launched today is a guide to all potential investors in the Liberian WASH sector; and it breaks down the high-level targets set in the Agenda for Transformation into the key WASH investment projects, associated costs and time scales required to improve coverage across urban and rural Liberia. These investments will thereby assist Liberia in making progress across a range of Millennium Development Goals,” World Bank Liberia Country Manager, Inguna Dobraja has noted.

 According to the release, the WASH Sector Investment Plan developed with support from the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) outlines funding requirements of US$600 million to achieve the targets set for 2017.

 However, despite development partners’ existing support to the sector, this leaves a US$450 million funding gap to achieve the targets set in the Agenda for Transformation (Liberia’s second Poverty Reduction Strategy).

The investment plan, the release said, was largely informed by a digital map and inventory of more than 10,000 water points across Liberia, developed through comprehensive national mapping exercise led by the Ministry of Public Works, with support from WSP.

The water point atlas reportedly revealed glaring inadequacies on the state of functional water points, which helped to formulate policy recommendations.

 The release said more than half of the funding priorities focus on improving water, sanitation and solid waste management in urban areas, including rehabilitation of Monrovia’s sewage system.

 The investment plan also emphasizes a shift from shallow wells towards piped water systems in urban areas.

 Accordingly, other funding priorities are for WASH services in rural areas; for water and sanitation services in schools, clinics and public areas; and for building capacity within the sector.

However, funding is yet to be fully mobilized and only a fraction of the investment requirements will be met by committed public resources or donor funding.

 According to the investment plan, a large part of the funding gap will need to be covered from user payments for urban services.