5.3 million

Liberia is one of the world’s wettest countries, but it lacks vital networks to reach everyone with clean drinking water.

The country’s history is shaped by two devastating civil wars, both of which wiped out water and sanitation infrastructure. The country has developed significantly since, and around three quarters of Liberians are now able to access a reliable source of clean water close to home.

But an enormous challenge remains. More than three quarters of the population still don't have a decent toilet of their own and many have to go outside instead. This easily spreads illness and contaminates ground water sources, many of which are already at risk from increased industrial and mining pollution.

In 2014, after a successful trial project, we were about to launch a joint Liberia and Sierra Leone programme when an outbreak of Ebola swept across the country – with poor hygiene and dirty water helping its spread. We resumed work in 2015, collaborating with communities to create safe water, sanitation and hygiene solutions that will protect their health into the future.

Installing taps and toilets is essential, but our work is about so much more – from influencing national policies and budgets to giving people the knowledge and confidence to claim their human rights.

Water and toilets should be normal for everyone, everywhere, and in Liberia we are helping make that a reality.

people don't have a decent toilet of their own.

That's more than three quarters of the population.

don't have clean water close to home.

That's almost a quarter of the population.

children under the age of five die a year from diarrhoea

caused by dirty water, and poor toilets and hygiene.

Clean water after Ebola

Water is important. Without water, I cannot do my work and the clinic cannot run, the toilets will not be clean, and nurses cannot treat patients.
Yeartee Barteh, 39

Yeartee Barteh is a cleaner at the Pipeline Health Centre in Paynesville, Monrovia.

She used to walk to a well every morning because the clinic did not have its own water supply. But often the well did not have enough either, so she would pay children to find water elsewhere for her.

During the Ebola outbreak, Yeartee’s job became much harder and more dangerous. She had to clean constantly to prevent the spread of the disease, but it was hard to find enough water. The chlorine-treated water she used was so strong it made her skin peel.

One day, she was sent home and quarantined – an Ebola patient had stayed at the clinic and her managers feared she may have contracted it too. “21 days passed, I was alright,” she says. But others were not so fortunate. “The patient died, and the doctor who treated them also died."

By bringing running water to the health centre, we have been able to make life easier and safer for everyone in the community. Yeartee is excited: “Drawing water is my greatest challenge. What I need to make my job better is a good running water system because water is everything.”

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