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Open defecation on the increase in Monrovia suburbs

By Augustine Myers/18/09/2013
Partial view of the Jamaica Road Community
Partial view of the Jamaica Road Community

( issue of poor sanitation, due to lack of public latrines in Monrovia suburbs, is becoming a serious health threatening problem that needs government and partners’ attention.

The situation is becoming prevalent especially in populated communities in and around the Liberian Capital.

In some of these populated communities, sanitary conditions are even getting from bad to worst.

As the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia commences the second phase of its exclusive reportage, focusing on sanitation in Monrovia and environs, Jamaica Road and Belimah Communities’ sanitary nightmares are been highlighted.

The two communities are located on the Bushrod Island near central Monrovia, with a population of about 30-thousand residents, according to Liberia’s 2008 Population Census.

Residents of these areas informed WASH R&E that they are in desperate need of toilet facilities.

According to them, public latrines in the two communities were closed down about two years ago, because they were overly used, not properly maintained and unsafe to use.

They also blamed the situation on over crowdedness and, their inability and unwillingness to maintain the toilets.

Open defecation is now on the increase as some residents have now turned to the use of plastic bags, rubber buckets, nearby bushes and even the main streets at midnight to defecate.   

They said: “Such practice is unhygienic and poses serious health hazards to our communities. We often experience running stomach and illnesses, as we are only living by the grace of God.”

The Chairman of the Jamaica Road Community, Gabriel McCauley, named the unavailability of land space for the construction of public latrines as one of the problems the community is being faced with as its population is speedily over growing.

According to him, even other residents are not willing to provide land to construct the latrines, noting.

Mr. McCauley said: “After several appeals they provided land spaces for the projects, but following the completion of the projects, the land owners reclaimed the land, along with the latrine facilities as their personal properties.”

“Two of such facilities were constructed by a charity for the community use, but we were forced to close them down, because they were being illegally possessed by the land providers, something the community had refused to accept,” he further noted. 

Also speaking to WASH R&E, the Chairperson of Belimah Community said: “The absence of public latrines and the lack of the facility in some residential houses have contributed immensely to the prevailing sanitation problems in the area.”

Mr. Momolu Dukuly also added: “If nothing is done to urgently address the situation, it could lead to a serious health disaster in Belimah.

“At night, individuals defecate just anywhere, because they lack access to toilet facilities. Such a situation puts the community in a state of poor sanitation and embarrassment,” Mr. Dukuly added.

He called on land owners in the area to provide land spaces to enable government and other goodwill institutions and individuals construct public toilets for the residents.

Besides the issue of sanitation, the provision of safe-drinking water is also critical to the Jamaica Road and Belimah communities.

Residents who cannot afford to purchase water have no alternative, but to fetch and use water from unsafe sources such as open wells and drainages.

This, according to the residents of both communities, the situation has resulted to the spread of water-borne diseases.


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