The WASH Commission is the government agency with the statutory mandate to promote, coordinate, and regulate the development and management of water, sanitation, and hygiene services. On the other hand, Last Well is a non-profit organization based in the United States with a primary purpose of eliminating water scarcity across Liberia and other countries and offering the gospel to every community by 2020.
Speaking recently at a news conference, the WASH Commission said described the Last Well as being deceptive to the Liberian people on grounds that it has built hundreds of hand pumps across the country.
According to NWASHC Executive Director, Mr. Bobby Whitfield, claims by the international NGO that it has provided safe drinking water to over two million Liberians across the country are false and misleading, stating that the commission has unearthed multiple “discrepancies” concerning the purported claims made by the NGO.
Whitfield noted that the investigations, which were conducted in Bong and Grand Gedeh Counties, were intended to verify the number of wells dug, drilled and rehabilitated by The Last Well in two of the five counties as “sample size to make a determination generally on happenings in the five operational counties of The Last Well”.
“The Coordinators could not provide reasonable assurance that those wells dug, drilled and rehabilitated were done in line with national standards, and are adequate to serve the entire population of the counties as claimed by The Last Well,” he stated.
“The commission also observed that due to the large population size to a water point and other factors, most of the wells dug by The Last Well were not functioning properly thus, leaving the communities with no alternative but to revert to their unsafe sources, like the case of Bargblor Town in Tchien district, Grand Gedeh. In this town, out of the 11 wells dug by different organizations including The Last Well, none is functional as of the date of our findings,” added Whitfield.
But the Ministry of Public Works, which gave birth to the WASH Commission, frowned at the report released by the commission, thus expressing government’s full support and commitment to working with the organization.
“We would like to state here emphatically and reassert our support and commitment for The Last Well, and frankly thank them for their intervention in Liberia and their support for the PAPD,” said Minister Benjamin Bantoe, Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Community Services at a news conference following the release of the report by WASH Commission.
Bantoe described the called conference of NWASHC as show of poor leadership manifested at a time when the nation is facing political and economic challenges.
“Events yesterday that unfolded at the headquarters of the National WASH Commission call to mind a similarly unhealthy memory in our history: A time when clearly, we appear to be experiencing a breakdown in cordiality across and within the WASH sector. One is forced to lament, “What has happened to the WASH sector”? Why this show of poor leadership manifested at a time when the nation is facing political and economic challenges,”? asked the MPW official.
“The Ministry for the past ten years has worked with over 75 partners year in year out and have managed the government relationship with these partners thereby paving the way for funding to flow within the sector even as GOL never prioritized funding for the sector. Multiple p[programs and projects were implemented through the ministry and many other respective WASH agencies because we mastered art of partnership management , taking no one above the other and according them the necessary courtesies duly,” he stated.
According to him, one of the cardinal reasons why the government through the Ministry of Public Works would continue to have explicit confidence in Last Well is because the organization always been willing to learn and change as it implements into some of the hard to reach communities.
“The seriousness of the Last WELL to implement so many projects year in year out more than some of the partners who prefer to work in the dark and carry out useless publicity that leads to nothing is unfathomable,” Bantoe noted.
He called on officials of government, especially the WASH Commission to conduct its assigned duties and responsibilities in accordance with the law and avoid legal action.
“Government official entrusted with the President’s mandate need to take their work seriously and stop allowing themselves to be sued by others in the sector who, have been here for years and frankly has achieved nothing,” Deputy Minister Bantoe indicated.
Meanwhile, the Vice President for International Affairs and Strategic Partnership of Last Well, Mr. Abdul Hafiz Koroma, threatened to the matter up with government authorities including the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and if possible file a legal suit against the Commission.
Koroma stated that since the inception of the organization in the country, its activities have been undermined by the Commission headed by Whitfield.
Koroma maintained that the operations of Last Well all over the world are conducted openly, and as such, it was unfortunate for the WASH Commission here in Liberia to denigrate the organization in such an ugly manner.
According to Koroma, the works of the organization are seen throughout the entire length and breadth of the country, stressing that the assertion by the Commission’s boss Whitfield at the news conference was only intended to malign the hard eared reputation of the internationally acclaimed organization that has worked throughout the world with pride and dignity.