Water Missions flies to provide safe water in Liberia

Water Missions flies to provide safe water in Liberia

MAF has only just begun flying in Liberia but we're already helping Water Missions International (WMI) to improve the water supply in various health centres. André Mergenthaler, Director of International Projects tell why he is happy to travel with MAF

It’s 10am on Thursday and the weather has finally improved enough that we can begin the journey to Harper in the far south of Liberia.

In our first contact with MAF pilots Emil Kundig and Arjan Paas, it was immediately clear that we are not traveling with an ordinary airline. The organisation is professional yet very personal. For two hours we sit in the airport terminal accompanied by Emil Kundig, waiting for the rain to clear. When the time came, the pilots begin with a brief prayer for a safe flight and then we are off.

The view is impressive as we fly over a Liberia made green from the rains. Unfortunately, the rainy season also brings floods, and traveling by car on the muddy, flooded dirt roads to see our three projects would have taken days. The flight takes less than two hours. The landing site is a dirt airstrip, watched over by UN soldiers.

'Without the support of MAF, this important clean water project would not have been possible' André Mergenthaler

Harper is the 11th largest city in Liberia, in the far south of the country along the Atlantic Ocean, close to Ivory Coast. It was founded in 1835, and is approximately 650km (400 miles) from Monrovia on mostly dirt roads. Harper was an important administrative city until the Liberian Civil War. The town is slowly being rebuilt but has no central electricity or running water.

In a health centre in a secluded village and the Hospital in Harper, we are able to get an idea of ​​the steps necessary to improve the water supply in various health facilities. In addition to assessing the existing structures, we make first contact with the person in charge in each location, taking water samples to test for pollutants. All this is possible only because we were involved in a well-functioning NGO network able to support us with ground transport to complement the MAF flight. In the late afternoon we are grateful to return to our base in Monrovia.

'It was immediately clear that we were not travelling with an ordinary airline - the organisation is professional yet very personal' André Mergenthaler, Water Missions International

The weather is perfect for another flight on Saturday, this time south to Greenville, less than half the distance of the previous flight to Harper. Greenville is the capital of Sinoe County in south-eastern Liberia and lies on a lagoon near the Atlantic Ocean. It is located about 240km (150 miles) south-east of Monrovia, with a population of approximately 16,500.

Once again, we are able to accomplish our mission quickly. This time we left on time at 8am and landed on the airstrip in Greenville in less than an hour.

This makes possible for us to bring the material with us on the plane, and supervise the progress of the installation of the water treatment system for the hospital of the town. The job is completed and we return in the afternoon to Monrovia, arriving at 5pm.

Without the support of MAF, this important clean water project would not have been possible before our flight back to Germany, particularly due to the rainy season and the nearly inaccessible roads. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to fly with MAF, and look forward to our next flight with Emil and Arjan.