Upgrading Water and Sanitation Systems Incorporating Skills-Based Training and Employment for Youth in Ebola Affected Slum Communities

The project aims to strengthen resilience and promote economic stabilization and recovery in vulnerable slum communities by providing expanded access to safe drinking water and environmental sanitation and creating employment and business opportunities for youth and women.

The economic drain of Ebola on Liberia has been immense and its social impact on ordinary Liberians’ lives far-reaching. The loss of employment on account of the faltering economy, increases in prices of basic commodities as supplies dried up and stores closed their doors, the closure of schools and the scarcity of even the most basic health care services caused considerable anxiety. With Liberia having been declared Ebola-free on 9 May 2015 the focus has now shifted to a recovery phase, with an emphasis on “building back better”.

Urban slums pose particular challenges in terms of ensuring resilient recovery as they are characterized by chronic and structural vulnerabilities around poverty, overcrowding and the lack of basic services. It is against this that the UN Joint programming targets one of the largest slum communities in Monrovia (known as Clara Town), with an integrated package of interventions in water supply, environmental sanitation and youth employment, aimed at strengthening resilience and improving livelihoods.

The UN joint approach through the UNDAF process provides specific benefits and features that could complement and strengthen national processes in efforts to implement the post-Ebola Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan. Slum upgrading responds to the vulnerabilities of slums that are brought about by the informal nature of such settlements.

Slum upgrading objectives typically  include enhancing tenure security, improving the quality of housing, alleviating overcrowding or expanding basic services to slum communities. Initiatives to upgrade tenure security or quality of housing in slums usually require extended initial assessments, long term implementing horizons, and work best where the political climate is stable.  In line with this, the project aims to improve the living conditions in the urban slums by reducing the vulnerability to infectious diseases in the most densely populated slum communities in Monrovia and by strengthening the resilience of the slum communities through livelihood opportunities.

The main project outcomes will be as follows:

a. Improved public health and environmental sanitation through expanded access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation, solid waste management services and hygiene education;

b. Revitalization of economic activities in the slum community by generating skills-based employment opportunities and promoting small business development linked to the construction, operation and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure