Saving Lives Before The Well

Community-Led Total Sanitation

Paving the Way for Clean Water in Liberia

Villages like Wohrn Town (from the video above) need your partnership to drill water wells. They can’t dream of bearing the expense alone, but they can be empowered to save as many lives as their well ever will. Nearly all water-related death and illness is ultimately hygiene- and sanitation-related. Our Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programs in Liberia demonstrate that villages can save before a well is even drilled and develop local leadership to ensure the ongoing impact of your gift through locally managed sustainability plans.

Living Water Liberia is piloting CLTS in five villages. Our teams there have committed to serving 15,200 people in 2013, and they need your help. Please learn more about this approach below, and help our staff equip communities in Liberia and around the world!

“CLTS requires six months to a year of leadership development before a well is even drilled—and the results have been phenomenal!”

Empowering Communities

Community-Led Total Sanitation engages communities months before a drill rig arrives on the scene. It's an opportunity for our staff to foster real transformation. And because CLTS is a methodology recognized and encouraged by the Liberian government, we're eager to support its implementation.


In Liberia, Living Water’s approach looks like this:


Divided into multiple “pre-triggering” and “triggering" stages, hygiene and sanitation promoters begin by building relationships within a community. Natural leaders, often women, rise to the top. Though women may not be valued in traditional leadership roles, the subject area itself—village- and family-level water and sanitation—positions them as local experts. Staff promoters map out conversations and questions to trigger a community to identify its own problems, and these new leaders begin to develop their own answers.


Armed with this new revelation of their challenges, local leaders use local resources to build solutions: latrines, showers, dish racks, animal corals, garbage dumps, or whatever the need may be. Once they've integrated personal, environmental, food and water hygiene practices into the natural flow of community life, the Liberian government’s Ministries of Health and Public Works recognize their efforts and award them the official status of having become “open-defecation free” (ODF). The government even records them in a public, online registry of ODF communities.


Achieving this government status indicates a community’s dedication to saving lives. We’re eager to supply access to safe water once we’ve seen demand recognized autonomously. A well couldn’t be constructed with a village’s local materials, and a community wouldn’t have the capital to do so without our investment. So once Living Water has proof a community is truly committed to safeguarding a well, we can send in our drilling crew knowing that the local leadership to maintain it has been established.


CLTS is really one component of the larger picture of sustainability. After a community’s natural leaders identify problems, solve them and receive a well, they transition into a new role—a water committee. Now responsible for protecting the well, they create their own bylaws to monitor its use, develop a maintenance fund through the collection of small fees (on average about $0.65 per family per month) and trained local pump mechanics are equipped for well maintenance. We monitor as they progress toward self-sufficiency, our ultimate goal!


Making water wells locally sustainable is a huge challenge, but we've seen CLTS produce real, workable, locally led solutions! We love watching villagers beam with pride at their own resourcefulness and celebrate the countless lives saved in the process. Please help our local Liberian staff fulfill their 2013 commitment to serve 15,200 people with life-saving lessons, paving the way for clean water.

" Once Living Water has proof a community is truly committed to safeguarding a well, we can send in our drilling crew knowing that the local leadership to maintain it has been established. "


Life-Saving Staff

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Ambaye Zekewos, Country Director, Living Water Liberia

Ambaye has seen too much death. When he began his development career 29 years ago, it was in the midst of an Ethiopian famine—400,000 people died because of drought. His emergency relief work took him to South Sudan, Yemen and now to Liberia where he's joined our team. The improvement he's leading in Liberia is such a stark contrast to the devastation he's seen in the past and has even been recognized by Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It makes him proud of the innovation his staff accomplishes with communities every day. Read Ambaye's special message to you, here.



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Raymond Musa, Operations Manager, Living Water Liberia

Raymond's childhood was marked by Liberia's civil unrest. The war ultimately pushed his family across the border as refugees in Sierra Leone. When his father was killed by rebels, Raymond dedicated his life to making the world a better place. Now part of Living Water Liberia, he helps train communities to build their own sanitation facilities. He sees his work as a manifestation of the hands and feet of Jesus, a proclamation of the gospel through safe drinking water and sanitation.



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Abigail Fahnbulleh, Hygiene Promoter, Living Water Liberia

"Where do you get water?" "What do you eat?" "What happens after you eat?" Abigail keeps simple questions like these in her CLTS tool box. They help her trigger a community into identifying its sanitation problems. She can then empower those we serve to answer, "So what can we do as a community member to stop the problem?" Her words have the power to save lives. Because Abigail grew up in a small Liberian mining community, she loves those she serves as her own community. Cultivating community leaders, for Abigail, is a form of discipleship. Helping to change attitudes and promote life-saving behaviors is her demonstration of God's love.


Do Something

We want to see more villages like Wohrn Town transformed in Liberia—and around the world—but we can’t without your investment. Please partner with our staff to replicate this innovative approach to sustainability globally. In Liberia alone this year, Ambaye and his local team still need $492,400 to serve their 15,200 neighbors with life-saving lessons and safe water. Your support will send our staff into even more communities, months before we can drill a well.

1. Donate to Ambaye’s team and his colleagues across the developing world.

2. Recruit others to do the same. Create a fundraising campaign and transform a community with your friends.

3. Spread the word. Share this video of lives saved in villages like Wohrn Town!



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