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Sea erosion causes displacement and health hazard

John Kumeh/Jos Garneo Cephas
An areal view of West Point township
An areal view of West Point township

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-Liberia’s most densely populated municipality, the township of West Point, in the Capital of Monrovia is faced with major problems of sanitation and sea erosion among others.

In spite of the situation the area lacks public sanitation facilities as infrastructures were built for residential purposes without public facilities provision of   facilities like toilets and sanitation in this area were constructed without toilets.

Several of the 100,000 inhabitants in this area use the beach or “goal post toilet” (makeshift structure built with sticks) situated on the Montserrado River to defecate.

In a bid to remedy this old age problem, the Government of Liberia and international partners launched several water, sanitation and hygiene projects, ranging from the European Union Urban WASH Project, Oxfam Tiger Worms Sanitation, amongst others.

In the same vain, the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) launched a campaign to keep beaches and in and around the capital clean. That project has brought some level of improvement in the sanitary condition of the beaches, including the West Point Beach.

Recent sea erosion has undermined the efforts of both the Liberian Government and partners working in the WASH sector, to create an enabling WASH environment in the Township of West Point.

The Township WASH Coordinator, Haji Massaquoi, said: “Several of the facilities constructed by our International partners have been destroyed as a result of sea erosion.”

Most of the sanitation facilities have been buried under water due to the rapid advancement of the sea. As a result of the destruction residents have resolved to defecate on the beaches ranging from White Flowers Community to areas being occupied by Ghanaian Fisher folks.

“What I am seeing here, if nothing is done, surely there will be a serious health problem in this area,” a female residence noted.

Human feces can be seen all over, while domesticated animals also search for food in huge stock pile of garbage along the beaches. Several of the houses in which the tiger worm toilets were constructed are lying in ruins, with septic tanks buried under water.

Most of the occupants of these houses who are displaced said that before the erosion, the sanitary condition at the beach in West Point was gradually improving.

Interestingly, in this unhealthy condition, many cook shops operate along the beaches, and customers troop in daily to purchase food. “I am compare to cook and sell food in this area, because this is where my food is bought faster,” a cook shop owner asserted.

Besides the poor sanitary condition in the area, accessing safe drinking water is another major challenge facing residents. To get safe drinking water, some residents purchase water in sachets or bottles.

For those who cannot afford, they drink water from unprotected   source to quench their thirst.

Some residents are calling on the government of Liberia to launch a campaign to relocate residents of West Point, to prevent the outbreak of contagious diseases and save lives.

As part of the 3.3 million euro Project, which seeks to directly support 50,000 men, women and children to access appropriate sanitation facilities and hygiene messages, 250,000 will benefit from solid waste and drainage improvements.

The project targets population in four slum communities in Monrovia to have increase sanitation coverage and improve hygiene practices.

The four communities include: Clara Town, Logan Town, New Kru Town and West Point. It also focuses on market vendors and institutions (schools and health centers).

The project is also taking into consideration building the capacity of local partners in the provision of sanitation management.
Two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants in urban and para-urban Monrovia are benefiting from solid waste and drainage improvement.

The project targets the construction of 200 tiger worm latrines in households, rehabilitation and construction of 35 communal latrines in institutions and communities.

Drainage clearing, community based recycling and re-used of solid waste, social mobilization and dissemination of key sanitation and hygiene messages will also form part of the Project.

About 300 hundred beneficiaries, 100 females, 50 children and 150 males from White Flowers Community in the Township of West Point were amongst the first to benefit from the start of the Project.


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