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Diarrhea kills 15, residents send SOS call

By Augustine Myers

(mylbsonline/Liberia)-Life is becoming increasingly unbearable for the over five thousand residents of Kamara Town, situated near the Po River between Montserrado and Bomi Counties.

Kamara Town is about an hour drive from central Monrovia and has a population of approximately 5000 inhabitants, including 250 family heads.

The Town lacks access to safe-drinking water, latrine and health facilities. There are about six hand pumps, two of which are down and the remaining four are said to be rusty, thus providing unsafe water, due to the reported lack of maintenance, since the facilities were constructed between 2004-2007.

Certainly, there is no latrine facility, least talking about private or public ones. The residents usually seek medical attention at the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Montserrado County, or the Government Hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, 15 to 20 miles, respectively, away from Kamara Town.

Diarrhea has become a common disease among residents, resulting from poor sanitation and the lack of safe-drinking water in Kamara Town. A total of 15 persons have reportedly died in the town since 2012 as the result of diarrhea outbreaks there.

According to the residents, the victims include 3 men, 4 women and eight children.

The latest victim is an 11th grade student, only identified as Boakai, who had gone to visit his mother in Kamara Town. Boakai died few days ago from diarrhea.

The situation compelled the residents to send a team to Monrovia Tuesday 5th March, 2013 to the Offices of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Reporters Network of Liberia.

The Team, led by a female youth, Georgina Kamara (Grand Daughter of the Founder of Kamara Town), explained the unfortunate situation and how they have made countless appeals for assistance, but to no avail.

The following day, mylbsonline reporter visited Kamara Town to ascertain the facts and upon arrival there, community members, including the General Town Chief, Momo Ballah, led him on a tour starting with the cemetery of diarrhea victims and others.

During the assessment of the town, it was noticed that feces had taken over the entire Kamara Town, leaving the town with an unpleasant odor, which already created health hazard for the residents.

It is difficult for one to walk freely from one end of the town to another without holding unto his or her nose.

“We are really suffering and dying slowly here, and if nothing is urgently done to address the situation, we will all die like others,” Chief Ballah pitifully asserted.

Mr. Ballah said: ”We always try to clean the community, but continue to be faced with difficulties to curtail open defecation, now the order of the day.

Residents of the community openly defecate all around the town during night hours, a situation the town chief described as, ”Uncontrollable” in the absence of latrine facilities.

“When it rains, the water helps to wash away the feces, but again they go into the open wells and damaged hand pumps that we are using for drinking,” Chief Ballah said.

”We want to build toilets, but we lack adequate finances. We have, made dirt bricks and now awaiting the intervention of government and development partners to assist us construct latrines.   

”Due to the lack of safe-drinking water, latrine and medical facilities in Kamara Town, diarrhea is said to be a common illness and we are only surviving by the grace of God,” he also said.

The town residents have meanwhile sent out an SOS call for the construction of safe water, latrine and medical facilities in Kmara Town.

The town once accommodated thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), during the Liberian civil crisis.
Some of the IDPs who have already integrated into the community are said to be orphans and widows.

“We hope water, sanitation and hygiene efforts would now focus on the diarrhea-stricken Kamara Town to save the lives of thousands of residents of the town,” Chief Ballah said.


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