World Wetlands Day Celebration Report (February 2, 2018)
On February 2, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the Republic of Liberia, as the principle regulatory body on environmental issues in Liberia, joined members of the Ramsar Convention to celebrated World Wetlands Day. The World Wetlands Day (WWD) is an annual event that is celebrated worldwide marking the adoption and signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This was held on 2nd February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar and serves as an International instrument for the protection of wetlands globally. The event was first celebrated in 1997. Since then, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and community groups have celebrated the day with activities to raise public awareness on wetland values and benefits, as well as to promote conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. This years’ International theme for WWD 2018 is: “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future” and the local (Liberia) theme, “Save the wetlands Save the Future.’’
This year celebration activities included the followings:
Radio Discussion – Prior to the celebration, a team of two environmentalists, Mr Levi Piah, the Ramsar Focal Point at the EPA and Mr Richard Sambolah of Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment, a local environment NGO appeared on three different radio talk shows (State Radio and two local stations) with the aim of providing awareness on the importance and values of wetlands as part of the celebration. During the discussions, the team was highly commended for sharing vital information which was considered timely and callers promised to adhere to the key message on protecting the Wetlands.
News Articles Publication – Profiling is one of the best ways of sharing information to a specific range of audience. During the activities, several media practitioners were invited to provide media coverage.
Clean-up exercise – A massive cleanup campaign around the wetlands (Mesurado river bank) within the Slipway Community (a slum wetlands community in central Monrovia) was jointly carried out by residence of the community, EPA staffs, representatives from Conservation International, Monrovia Breweries, National Bureau of Fisheries, Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment with full support from the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC).
Indoor Program- The indoor program commenced at 11:45AM at the Slipway Community School with an opening prayer done by a volunteer from the community. Mr. Daniel Davies, Chairman Slipway Community gave the welcome remark which was followed by an introductory statement by Mrs. Hawa K. Walker, Asst. Manager-Conservation Unit –EPA.
Student Aboullrahman Jalloh, of the six (6) grade class who attends the Slipway Community School eloquently read the Presidential Proclamation.
Mr. John K. Jallah, Asst. Manager Environmental Research and Standard/EPA, gave an overview of World Wetlands Day speaking on the theme “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future’’, emphasizing the importance of World Wetlands Day as an essential ceremony marking the anniversary of the signing of the convention on wetlands of international importance. He said, “The Ramsar Convention on wetlands is an Intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. As a member of the Convention since 2nd November 2003, “Liberia is under obligation to undertake provisions stipulated within the convention; one of which is to ensure that all wetlands, particularly five (5) Ramsar designated sites in Liberia”, namely; Mesurado Wetlands in Montserrado County, Marshall Wetlands in Margibi County, Kpatawee Wetlands in Bong County, Lake Piso Wetlands in Grand Cape Mount County and Gbendi Wetlands in Nimba County. Speaking further he mentioned that urban wetlands (green vegetation) are essential and contribute to help cities control flooding, buffer against storms and tsunamis, and act as a filter for domestic and industrial waste; improving water quality and creating green spaces in cities, to help promote human wellbeing; with so many benefits and avert impending water crisis. They can also serve as a major sources of livelihood and tourism; making cities truly livable, when considered properly in city planning.
In a special statement by Conservation International (CI), Mr. Peter Mulbah said that EPA being a partner will continue to enjoy support for the conservation of wetlands. He also mentioned a youth empowerment program being planned by CI is for the Slipway community.
Mrs. Benetta Gogbar, Asst., Manager Human Resource and Officer-In-Charge (OIC) said EPA will always work with stakeholders to protect and manage Liberia’s wetlands.
In closing remarks, Mr. Levi Z. Piah, Chief Technical Advisor and National Focal Point for the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, thanked all sponsors, partners, participants and the Conservation team for making the World Wetlands Day 2018 a success.
Managing wetlands for increased human resilience requires action to sustain or restore water regimes, so as to maintain wetlands ecosystem health, productivity and functioning. We give thanks to the Almighty, first, for the showers of blessings that ushered in the day, and for making it possible. World Wetlands Day 2018 celebration was successful because of the tremendous support received from the Management of the Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Liberia amidst numerous challenges; as we could never have achieved our goals without their encouragement and moral backing. We also appreciate our partners; most especially Conservation International that stood with us; reinforcing messages of Sustainability of wetlands; to ensure its implementation to the fullest. We also thank the Monrovia Breweries for sponsorship of our program, as well as all the inhabitants of Slipway community the Chairman of Slipway, Mr. David Daniels and Principal of Slipway Community School, Mrs. Jemah Moore, for their kindness and partnership in mobilizing community dwellers and key stakeholders to form part of this year event. And last, but not least, we acknowledge the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the National Bureau of Fisheries (NBF), who were also on hand to provide the usual support. “In union strong, success is (always) sure”. Special thanks go to all those who left other activities and turned out to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2018.