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African Water Facility project recognized during UN climate talks in Warsaw


The Fostering Innovative Sanitation and Hygiene (FISH) Project in Monrovia funded by the African Water Facility (AWF) was showcased and recognized on November 21 and 22 as one of 17 outstanding climate innovations during the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

FISH is the Government of Liberia’s first initiative to provide fecal sludge management services to unsewered poor areas of Liberia since the end of the civil war in 2003. This activity enhances capacity for sustainable city-wide fecal sludge management through a community-driven approach. It is doing so by improving the toilet facilities of households, by rehabilitating the sewerage system, by implementing communal toilet facilities for dense settlements and by providing public toilet facilities in marketplaces.

In her introduction, Kelly Rigg, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighted how the selected projects provided a guiding light “on the transformational societal shift underway to address climate change.” These activities, she said, demonstrate the potential to replicate and scale-up action in communities around the world.

The Monrovia City Corporation of the Government of Liberia received a 1.2 million euro grant from the African Water Facility, a special fund hosted by the African Development Bank, to finance the FISH Project.

For Ellen Pratt, Project Manager of FISH, this recognition provides an extra push, for an idea that is now becoming more and more established and relevant for the human development dimension of Monrovia’s emergence from conflict. “It provides relevance to something we thought was a good idea and it provides strong evidence that we are heading in the right direction,” said the project manager.

The 2013 Lighthouse Activities were selected by a 16-member, international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

The next step would be to scale up the project, said Pratt. “There are 14 other urban county capitals that are in urgent need of such initiatives, hence the need to replicate the activities nationwide.” According to Pratt, less than five per cent of the country has adequate sewage systems and fecal sludge is not being treated. More human and financial capital would be needed for further expansion.

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