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Liberia

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Area: 5888268 km2
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Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
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Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
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Water Challenges

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Country Overview

1.1.2.WATER USE Total water withdrawal in the year 2000 was estimated at 106.8 million m3. The main water user was agriculture with 60 million m3/year (57 per cent), followed by municipalities with 30.4 million m3/year (28 per cent) and industry with 16.4 million m3/year (15 per cent). Liberia has a total land area of approximately 98,000km², of which 46,000 km² is arable land (46 per cent). Of the arable land, 40,000km² is upland while the remaining 6,000km² is swampland, with irrigation potential. Prior to the war, about 6,340km² (13.8 per cent of total arable land) was cultivated, mainly under rice and cassava. At present, it is estimated that annual cultivation is less than 5 per cent of the arable land. Most of the swamp areas on which subsistence farmers cultivate rice comprise narrow inland valleys and widely scattered small swamps which are cleared using hand labour, and which make extensive of water control structures. Under traditional farming practices, yields of rice, is about 1ton/ha. However, under improved water management practices, rice yield is in the range of 3-4 tons/ha [WAEA, 2008]. According to the assessment on agriculture conducted in 2007, irrigation infrastructure is virtually non-existent, despite the presence of abundant water resources in the country. Areas with good water control and having the possibility of two crops per year are limited. Conventional upland irrigation is not considered an issue in Liberia because of water surplus in all the agro-ecological zones in the country and the large area of swampland available for development. Shallow-well irrigation farming and peri-urban irrigation also take place on a limited scale in Liberia. These activities are probably taken for granted and therefore do not receive any recognition in the plans for achieving food security [WAEA, 2008]. Three hydropower stations were functioning in the 1970s and 80s, but two of these have been destroyed. The smallest, a 4MW plant located in Harbel, Margibi County, is reportedly still working. Liberia generated 182MW of electricity through a combination of hydropower and oil-fired generation before the war. The biggest loss was the Mount Coffee hydropower plant which generated 35 per cent of the electricity for the country. Before the crisis, hydropower provided about 70 per cent of electricity in Liberia, but now, as a result of the crisis, the bulk of the present energy consumption, is derived from firewood and charcoal. About 97 per cent of Liberian households are without state generated electricity [WAEA, 2008]. Liberia is endowed with abundant water resources, but they are poorly utilized. It is estimated that there is an annual rainfall of about 5,000mm; hence food production during the rainy season is plentiful. However, this is not the case during the dry season when the water table goes down in most part of the country, with a notable loss of food and potential income by farmers. Fortunately, the country has many inland swamps that could be highly valuable for agriculture, particularly rice and vegetable production. However, the utilization of these lands has been minimal because of health hazards and cultural stigma. Adequate equipment, appropriate technology and sensitization to the productivity and usefulness of the swamps could help to integrate such lands into the agriculture and food production system of the country [NEPAD, 2005]. Inland swamps are generally under–utilized, but gained momentum during the 1990s with the advent of integrated agricultural development projects in Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties. An appreciable impact was felt by the target population as a result of the introduction of lowland Country Overview - Liberia development. Studies have shown that well–developed inland valley swamps, with sufficient water control systems, can become productive and sustainable farming undertakings. The use of appropriate equipment and sensitization of the people can significantly reduce the health hazards posed by swamps. Rice and vegetable production in the inland swamps is highly remunerative. Using inland swamps is also environmentally sound, as it can be cultivated on a continuous basis, hence reducing the need for the environmentally destructive practice of shifting cultivation [NEPAD, 2005].

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH The main environmental problems in Liberia are: tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; and pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage. Water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and infectious hepatitis are common. Data on water quality both from surface and groundwater are scarce. Domestic sewage, however, causes many problems as the only conventional sewerage system, - which was already poorly functioning before the civil crisis - is out of operation. Some sewage water is collected by vacuum trucks and disposed of into lagoons and other water bodies. In some areas there are indications that water quality is deteriorating due to mining, logging, farming and industrial activities [MLME, 2007]. Water and sanitation access data in Liberia is generally unreliable. However, it has been obvious that the water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector has seriously deteriorated after 14 years of civil war [USAID, 2006]. Destruction and population displacement (there are approximately 500,000 internally displaced people, about half living in camps and half in informal settlements) means that almost a complete rehabilitation of the WSS systems is required, including re-starting operation and maintenance (O&M) activities. With approximately 80 per cent of the population living in absolute poverty and 54 per cent in extreme poverty (living on less than US$1/per day), the WSS sector will be reliant on outside donor assistance for years to come. Cost recovery is a much lower priority than meeting essential needs. Rapid population growth in the capital, Monrovia, has severely stressed the only marginally functional urban WSS system. Rural areas remain relatively unpopulated and devoid of functional facilities while other urban areas have had their systems fall into complete disrepair. Looting, vandalism, lack of spare parts, and lack of technical knowledge perpetuate the difficulty in providing service. Management of water points remains a major challenge, even in those areas that are accessible. Communities are generally unwilling or unable to contribute funds for upkeep [USAID, 2006]. Rubber resources are a key source of wealth for Liberia, comprising one of the nation’s top export commodities. The rubber concession of Firestone Nature Rubber Plantation (an American company), makes it the second-largest producer of rubber on the continent. Pollution from Firestone’s plantation in Harbel, Lower Margibi County, 45 km from the capital Monrovia, however, has had a serious impact on the health and livelihoods of local residents. Operations have contaminated Ninpu creek, used by the Kpayah town community for fishing and drinking water. The local wetlands are an important resource for the area. Local residents have reported falling ill with diarrhoea after consuming the water [UNEP, 2010].

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Organizations in Liberia


The recent unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa highlighted the need for the establishment of a public health institute in Liberia, which supports national health delivery services. With the plan to revitalize health services in the country, ... Learn More

This is a resource group made up of the Line Ministries and service agencies. The committee works operationalise the NWSP, including providing a coordination for water supply and sanitation activities, development of and facilitation of the strategies. The NWSHPC is ... Learn More

WaterStep responds to critical needs for safe water by evaluating and implementing solutions and teaching people to use those tools. WaterStep saves lives with safe water by empowering communities to take care of their own long-term water needs. We believe ... Learn More

Projects in Liberia


Since the war, access to safe drinking water has been a struggle for Liberians. UOF’s aim is to work with communities in need to repair their well and improve their access to quality water. Following the well restoration the community ... Learn More

Since the war, access to safe drinking water has been a struggle for Liberians. UOF’s aim is to work with communities in need to repair their well and improve their access to quality water. Following the well restoration the community ... Learn More

Since the war, access to safe drinking water has been a struggle for Liberians. UOF’s aim is to work with communities in need to repair their well and improve their access to quality water. Following the well restoration the community ... Learn More

The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress towards rolling out it Poverty Reduction Strategy and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This project also intends to improve ... Learn More

This project intends to improve the health of un-served and rural communities people through community mobilization and by constructing/rehabilitating wells.The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress ... Learn More

This project intends to improve the health of un-served and rural communities people through community mobilization and by constructing/rehabilitating wells.The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress ... Learn More

This project intends to improve the health of un-served and rural communities people through community mobilization and by constructing/rehabilitating wells.The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress ... Learn More

This project intends to improve the health of un-served and rural communities people through community mobilization and by constructing/rehabilitating wells.The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress ... Learn More

The BHP Billiton WASH project is a one year effort designed to support the government of Liberia in making significant progress towards rolling out it Poverty Reduction Strategy and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This project also intends to improve ... Learn More

As outlined in its Country Strategic Plan (2011-2015), Plan Liberia’s work is aimed at contributing to the process of post-conflict peace building by undertaking projects that will improve child rights and provide an enabling environment for them to access education, ... Learn More

Since the war, access to safe drinking water has been a struggle for Liberians. UOF’s aim is to work with communities in need to repair their well and improve their access to quality water. Following the well restoration the community ... Learn More

Clean Drinking water for all GuineansProject ResultsClean Drinking water for rural Guineans, for health and strong communities Learn More

The NWSHPC as part of its mandate to assist in the Capacity Growth of the Liberia WASH Sector, and in order to have an identified module of Data collection and in keeping with a uniform style of Reporting, has commenced ... Learn More

This project is implemented by the Water Of Life Liberia, funded by the Last Well and Brook woods Church USA to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and hygiene practices across Liberia. Our WASH interventions is also intended to ... Learn More

Since the war, access to safe drinking water has been a struggle for Liberians. UOF’s aim is to work with communities in need to repair their well and improve their access to quality water. Following the well restoration the community ... Learn More

Project WET is currently active in more than 75 countries around the world through a network of partner organizations that range from small NGOs to major international corporations and organizations. We only go where we’re invited! We work with our ... Learn More

This project is implemented by the Water Of Life Liberia, funded by the Last Well and Brook woods Church USA to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and hygiene practices across Liberia. Our WASH interventions is also intended to ... Learn More

This project is implemented by the Water Of Life Liberia, funded by the Last Well and Brook woods Church USA to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and hygiene practices across Liberia. Our WASH interventions is also intended to ... Learn More

This project is implemented by the Water Of Life Liberia, funded by the Last Well and Brook woods Church USA to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and hygiene practices across Liberia. Our WASH interventions is also intended to ... Learn More

The project will provide equitable and sustainable access to improved water and sanitation services and will motivate households to practice improved improved sanitation and hygiene behavior: 50000 people (55% female) in 66 communities, in 5 underserved counties with particularly high ... Learn More

Suggested Resources

View the full list of 300+ resources at the Water Stewardship Toolbox

This Working Paper proposes a method whereby any decision-maker can calculate the cost required to deliver sustainable water management to a geography. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Inform and strengthen your company’s water management strategies and allow your investors to evaluate current water management activities against detailed definitions of leading practice. Learn More

Developers: Ceres

In this Nature feature, Johan Rockstrom and co-authors argue that identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change. Learn More

Nature-based solution (NBS) can improve degraded ecosystems, help sequester carbon, and manage the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. Businesses are beginning to recognize the value of NBS for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Plan, Prepare and Respond- Breakdown for different industries on how to operate safely. Cleaning and disinfecting, Worker Safety, Support Resources, Mitigation Strategy Learn More

This report presents analysis of the response data from a sample of 783 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. The report is aimed at companies and investors seeking to understand how they can play their part in delivering a ... Learn More

The Toolbox connects your business to the latest tools, guidance, case studies, datasets, and more most relevant to you based on your circumstances and interests. It features more than 250+ resources from dozens of organizations and is updated every week. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute

Checklist for restoring water quality in buildings left unused for a long duration. Learn More

Developers: EPA Office of Wastewater Management

CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Includes Printable Materials Learn More

This report makes the case for private sector investment in green infrastructure as part of a broader water stewardship approach. Learn More

Developers: BHP

Includes Immediate steps, ongoing health measures that can be taken, and responsible business practice Learn More

Based on the major combat guidelines set by the São Paulo State Government, Sabesp is fully engaged to endure COVID-19 pandemic within its operation area, which means 374 municipalities located throughout São Paulo state and home to about 28 million ... Learn More

Developers: Sabesp

Best practices- Resources- Webinars on WASH/COVID-19 topics. Learn More

Urban stormwater is becoming an increasingly important alternative water supply in California. However, current economic analyses do not adequately evaluate co-benefits provided by different stormwater investments. As a result, urban stormwater capture is undervalued. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

NBS offer a promising contribution on how to enhance the availability and quality of water for productive purposes and human consumption, while preserving ecosystems. In this discussion paper, 21 case studies of water management processes are analysed, using a non-representative ... Learn More

FAO has been emphasizing the need to accelerate a global transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems, advocating an integrated approach. This document focuses on the management of water for agricultural use. Learn More

The Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard can be used to provide comparable quantification and robust analytics, helping corporations, governments, and researchers manage water resources and achieve greater water sustainability. Learn More

This guide outlines why and how investors engage on agricultural supply chain water risk. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Committee designed this document to guide the food industry and advise its sponsoring agencies in the implementation of HACCP systems. Learn More

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

To provide guidance and a global framework for the design, verification and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions. The Standard includes globally consistent Criteria and Indicators, which are supported by the Principles for Nature-based Solutions, to measure the strength of interventions. Learn More

Developers: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

To help our partners in responding to this health crisis in their countries, we have compiled different resources and tools around COVID-19 and WASH, which include documents, videos, social media materials with messages on public health, webinar recordings, etc. Learn More

With special attention to resources for utilities, this page lists relevant guidance around water and COVID-19. Learn More

Developers: American Water Works Association

This page seeks to help water sector professionals keep informed on the attributions of the COVID-19 virus and any measures needed to protect both workers and public health, in general. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This article presents the state of knowledge with regard to human health and well-being from contact with nature. Learn More

The United Nations World Water Development Report for 2018. Learn More

With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their core operations. This guide is meant as a stepping point to begin reopening with safety as a ... Learn More

During an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current outbreak of COVID-19, small business owners must prepare for disruption in their business as well as prepare to protect their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. These steps are recommended ... Learn More

This report shows how putting nature to work can help deliver infrastructure services with greater impact and lower cost, all the while reducing risks from disaster, boosting water security and enhancing climate resilience. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the three leading water tools available for corporate water risk assessment. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Colorado River Basin states face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. This report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, explores the potential for corporate water stewardship to help solve these challenges. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Compass Business Tools inventory maps existing business tools against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It allows you to explore commonly used business tools that may be useful when assessing your organization’s impact on the SDGs. Learn More

The world’s water resources are under increasing pressure from rising water consumption, pollution, and climate variability. The variety of water challenges companies face, from water governance issues to extreme events like drought, manifest in the river basins where the companies ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report provides findings on good practices of AWS Standard implementation. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Soil &amp; Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a small watershed to river basin-scale model used to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water and predict the environmental impact of land use, land management practices and climate ... Learn More

In response to the challenge of quantifying the business benefits, WaterAid, Diageo, GAP Inc., and Unilever have worked with PwC and ODI to develop a practical, step-by-step guide. The guide will help companies understand the business value of their WASH ... Learn More

Developers: WaterAid

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation is the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. The standard is complemented by a set of 12 quantitative performance indicators. By identifying “hotspots,” the indicators enable users to monitor ... Learn More

The Forest Stewardship Council created the Principles of Forest Stewardship as a worldwide standard to promote environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Learn More

The AWS Standard is a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context. Learn More

Developers: Alliance for Water Stewardship

This paper provides examples of how to make progress in service delivery in and beyond the workplace. With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their ... Learn More

This special Academy session covered steps businesses can take to respect and support the rights and lives of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

This tool is an interactive map linking nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation outcomes based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report explores the possibilities of scaling a circular economy, given the reality of the global economy and the complexity of multi-tier supply chains. Learn More

Developers: World Economic Forum

Water is the lifeblood of California, providing for the household needs of 40 million people and supporting one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, various commercial and industrial activities, and the health and viability of the state’s ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

ILO Sectoral Policies and Governance and Tripartism Departments present four self-training modules, which adapt existing ILO training tools on OSH to provide governments, workers and employers with the necessary skills to implement the general principles contained in relevant ILO instruments. ... Learn More

Companies are increasingly setting and pursing ‘water balance targets’ as part of their water stewardship strategies. The seeming simplicity of balance goals can be attractive – “we will restore a volume of water equal to the amount our business consumes.” ... Learn More

Developers: WWF

This report calls for an integrated approach that brings together governments, water users, and the society at large including the private sector, NGOs, and academia to design smart, adaptable and sustainable solutions for water infrastructure impacted by climate change. Learn More

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water-related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Learn More

CTCN; UNEP Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Water Witness International; WaterAid; WBCSD Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UNEP Learn More

IPIECA Learn More

Ceres Learn More

Ecolab Learn More

PRI; WWF Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Pegasys; Water Witness International; WWF Learn More

The World Bank Learn More

UNEP-DHI Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UN Water Learn More

OECD Learn More

UNICEF; WHO Learn More

River Threat Netwrok Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; WWF Learn More

Swedish Textile Water Initiative Learn More

Alliance for Water Stewardship Learn More

WaterAid Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

McKinsey Learn More

Toilet Board Coalition Learn More

Conservation International Learn More

UNEP Learn More

U.S. General Services Administration Learn More

National Drought Mitigation Center Learn More

USGS Learn More

UN Water Learn More

AT&T; EDF; Global Environmental Management Institute (GEMI) Learn More

OECD Learn More

SAI Platform Learn More

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