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Community Contribution

Adapting SMART Advocacy to Increase Access to Water in Liberia

S. Olabode-Ojo; L. Leslie; O. Bangurah; H. Jackson

The Sustainable Development Goals promote universal access to clean water by 2030. In 2020, 74% of the global population used clean drinking water reflecting an increase from 62% in 2000. Despite significant progress, there are still two billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water.  

In Liberia, about 84% of households have access to improved drinking water sources from tube wells, boreholes, and hand pumps in both urban and rural areas. Despite these improved water sources, access to clean and regulated drinking water remains a difficulty in rural communities, where only 69% have access compared to 95% of households in urban communities. In many cases communities survive on water from open wells, creeks, and running rivers, resulting in widespread cases of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.

This case study focuses on how trained voluntary influential community leaders leveraged social ties and partnerships to expand access to safe drinking water for community dwellers in rural Maryland County. The volunteer leaders are members of the local Health Advocacy Committee (HAC). Breakthrough ACTION is USAID's flagship project for social and behavior change. In Liberia, the project established HACs and trained them on SMART Advocacy- specifically, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to take action and achieve change. This resulted in an external collaboration of local, national, and international stakeholders and led to the development of the  first ever hand pump and maintenance system in Seator Town, Maryland County.

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