Conclusion of Gokai Well and Bathroom Program – Liberia

This project, to build a well and latrine in Gokai Town, Bong County, Liberia, has been completed under the direction of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Graham Button.

To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.

Graham reports as follows:

Through this project, Women’s Campaign International (WCI) sought to alleviate the problems caused by the water shortage and lack of latrines in Gokai Town, with the support of Water Charity. The proposed project included building a water pump and latrine complex, creating a Water Committee, and providing training to community members on not only the upkeep and maintenance of the new facilities but on proper sanitation and hygiene as well.

Located in a difficult-to-reach area of Bong County, Liberia, Gokai Town had been virtually untouched by foreign assistance of any kind before WCI undertook this project. With only a hand pump and a well that was dry six months out of the year, water has always been scarce in this small, rural community. To supplement their water supply, Gokai community members had to walk deep into the forest to gather water from two small underground springs. Trekking to get water on a daily basis was not only a time-consuming and arduous process but could become dangerous for women if they were caught alone on the path in the forest at night. Further, very few latrines existed in this community and open defecation was common practice.

On April 21, 2016, WCI was honored to officially dedicate the recently completed latrine and water pump to the people of the Gokai community. Upon their arrival to Gokai, WCI’s Program Liaison and Country Manager met with the newly-formed Water Committee, which was established during their last visit. Committee roles were reviewed and attendees discussed how the committee would maintain both the hand pump and the latrine in the future. The committee was thorough in their explanation and understanding of their roles and responsibilities, their meeting schedule, and the small fee that would be collected monthly from each household for latrine and hand pump upkeep.

The following day, community members gathered around the town hall early in the morning for a final WCI sanitation seminar. There were approximately 50 people of all ages in attendance, all listening eagerly to the sanitation messages on handwashing, open defecation, proper latrine use, food handling, and keeping the community environment clean.

Joining the group was a general Community Health Volunteer (qCHV), whose task it is to educate community members on proper hygiene. A welcome addition to the presentation, the gCHV took the opportunity to reinforce the sanitation and hygiene messages WCI was promoting. At the end of the seminar, the audience was quizzed on their knowledge of sanitation topics with prizes for correct answers. This allowed for a lively and laughter-filled game whereby community members demonstrated improved knowledge of sanitation topics.

Following the hygiene presentation, WCI staff and community members convened at the site of the new latrine where a formal presentation ensued with an opening prayer, a brief history of Gokai provided by a community elder, and words of dedication by both Vision Collaborators’ lead engineer and WCI’s Country Manager. WCI’s Program Liaison had the pleasure of handing the keys of both the latrine and water pump to the town chief. Together with the WCI Country Manager and Lead Engineer of Vision Collaborators, the town chief cut the ribbon to officially open the hand pump and latrine.

Expressing their joy and excitement, the community clan chief and chair lady of the water committee presented the traditional welcome gift of rice, water, and kola nuts, along with a live chicken, to both Vision Collaborators and the WCI staff. The gift also demonstrated the communities’ pledge to maintain and upkeep these structures, so that they may continue to effectively provide relief and service to their community in the future.

We are grateful to Graham and WCI for completing this project.