WaterAid is a global non for profit Christian humanitarian organization that is complimenting the effort of the Government of Liberia (GoL) to improve access to sustainable safe water and sanitation and hygiene solutions. WaterAid Country Director, Mr. Chuchu Selma, in his introductory comments, stressed the pivotal role the media plays in the WASH sector, noting that without the media, the sustainable interventions made by WaterAid would go unnoticed. "The media is essential part of our work, as you all know, we have been into advocacy and influencing, but without the media, it will be very difficult if not possible to realize our goal," the WaterAid Country director pointed out.
According to him, the issue surrounding citizens access to safe drinking water, improved latrines and hygiene still remain a major challenge, but pointed out that if journalists obtain the right skills and trainings to tell the stories of WASH in a simplified manner to the audience, he believes it will change the dynamics to a positive one. "The major objective of today training is to help improve journalists understanding of key WASH issues and some of the statistics on a global level, so that you all be able to provide the stories in a simplify manner to the readers and listeners to change these things to actionable activities leading to transformation,” he noted.
He furthered: "Another thing is to help journalists capture the good work done in the WASH sector not just by WaterAid, but the GoL and other International partners." For his part, the lead facilitator, Mr. Jonathan Chapman, through a visual presentation told journalists to hold state actors and the government accountable to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal #6, which states that everyone must have a source of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for household use. Chapman, who is the Media Specialist of WaterAid Global Headquarters in UK, encouraged media practitioners to always include factual statistics when reporting WASH issues to the public.
Providing latest statistics, it was revealed that 40% of Liberia's population still engage in open defecation, while 17% of people have access to basic sanitation and 73% have access to basic water ,leaving one(1%) having access to basic hygiene. He mentioned the inadequate investment and prioritization, weak sector coordination mainly at local level, low level of citizens' engagement and activism, high cost in water price as well as climate change as some obstacles in the WASH sector. The one-day event, which was organized by Wateraid recently, brought together about 10 media Editors and Reporters from both the electronic and print media in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of WASH Reporters and Editors Network, Mr. Augustine Myers, lauded WaterAid for the one- day capacity building training for media practitioners and at the same time cautioned journalists to take advantage of the skills and techniques acquired in their reportage with regards to highlighting WASH issues for possible transformation.