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 Liberia's Sanitation Hell:

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PostSubject: Liberia's Sanitation Hell:   Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:45 am

Liberia's Sanitation Hell: In Claratown, Scarcity of Toilets Pose Health Risks
02/02/2010 - Story by Nat Bayjay, nbayjay@FrontPageAfrica.com, Photos by Sando J. Moore


CLARATOWN-


For two months, Miatta Kandakai and the women of Claratown have been without a toilet of their own. On most days, men, women and children have to share the same toilets – one at a time. As many queue and await their turn, smells from nearby toilets fill the air, forcing one passerby to hold his nose.


Sanitation is known to be one of mankind’s basic necessities for better life. But
it seems the thousands of Clara Town residents have compromised that aspect and are virtually not just living in filth but unimaginable poor
sanitation conditions.
“My brother, the people built this toilet but we could not use it for even 2 months,” Kandakai explains. “In fact,” she says: “We the women were forced to use the same place with
the men because they told us that the ‘women side’ was not good”.
Kandakai laments her plight – to the obviously uncomfortable visitor, as she points toward one of the relatively new toilets which she lives next to. “So, we force to just use the ones them where the people built over the river”, she says.


Like Kandakai, most of the residents lament to a visitor that there is indeed a serious need for toilets because a vast majority of the houses
have none.


Sanitation is known to be one of mankind’s basic necessities for better life. But it seems the thousands of Clara Town residents have compromised that aspect and are virtually not just living in filth but unimaginable poor sanitation conditions.

The township is strategically located in the commercial district of Bushrod
Island is just a stone throw from Central Monrovia and has an estimated
61,000 to 65,000 inhabitants. The sanitation problems range from lack
of adequate toilet facilities to unkempt drainages and filthy
environment.


Struggle for toilets – a serious issue


The lack of adequate toilet facilities is no doubt the township’s gravest sanitation problem.
The lack of adequate toilet facilities is no doubt the township’s gravest
sanitation problem. More than 90 percent of the houses were built
without toilets (whether indoor or close-by), forcing residents to rely
on public toilet facilities. The toilets are not only nasty in most
cases but are also insufficient to cater to the tens of thousands of
residents that flock early morning hours and late evening hours to ease
themselves.


To add ‘salt to injury’, a lot of the already insufficient public toilets
have been closed to the residents—a situation that has prompted the
constructions of over a hundred make-shifts toilets along the bank of
the Mesurado River popularly known as the ‘Du River’.


Authorities clothed with catering to these public toilets known as the Seven-Man
Council of Clara Town tells a reporter that the closure of the toilets
is due to the fact that most of them are over-filled with feces.


The council is reportedly charged with the general welfare of the Township
and is said to be drawn from a cross-section of Clara Town’s most
dominant tribes (two representatives each from the Grebo and Vai Tribes
which are in majority, one representative from the Kru Tribe and two
representatives to generally represent the other tribes of the
Township.)


The Council which replaced a previous community council named the United
Development Association (UDA) of Clara Town is said to be heading in
similar direction as the UDA due to its inability to cater to these
needs which includes the continual filthy drainages as shown in the
picture.


Augustine Passewe, Secretary to the Commissioner of the Township of Clara Town
says there is a unit called the Management Team which is responsible to
cater to the drainages. True to his words, many of the residents
informed a visitor that the Management Team periodically tries its best
in cleaning the drainages as well as dump-sites in the community. But
again, the efforts just cannot get the commendations that it should
probably be getting because it is often said that “a job half-done is
not done at all”.


No choice but to do it on herself

Passewe attributes the closure of the toilets to sewerage lines which need to
be reconnected to proper ones or new ones dug—indications that they
were indeed poorly connected to inadequate or ill-functional sewerage
lines. Most of the closed public toilets have just been constructed but
yet are not able to serve the people for whom they were built.


A local resident who prefer not to be identified tells the visitor how
she was compelled to toilet on herself due to the usual
over-crowdedness of the toilets (public and private). The woman
explains that the disgraceful incident happened to her one early
morning after she had experienced a terrible ‘running stomach’ the
previous night. “When I rushed to the water
side that morning, everywhere was packed. So, I ran to the government
toilet but again the line was long”, she said. Then she continued: “By
the time I could make up mind, I was finished doing it on myself”, she
concluded her ordeal.


‘PAY AS YOU TOILET’

Whether they can afford it or not, every visit to the toilet is paid for. Most
of the residents explain that they prefer to use the toilets built over
the river to the public ones. Residents pay LD$5 per visit to the
toilet.


Implicitly, one has to calculate or budget additional LD$150 or USD$2.3 monthly for
toilet per individual--- that is if one will not have to use the toilet
more than once daily. Just in case one experiences a stomach disorder
either due to Diarrhea or other stomach problem, you just might pay
twice that amount. This also means that if you have a household of over
five to 10 persons who are not able to secure a LD$5 note for toilet
purpose, then the accumulated circulation is yours.


A woman, probably in his late sixties explains to the visitor that
residents have to set aside at least LD$25 to LD $35 on the day that
follows Christmas Day or Ramadan Day (depending on which religion you
believe in since the Township is dominated by both Christians or
Muslims). This is so because, as justified by her that is when one gets
and eats food in abundance.


IMMINENT DANGER LOOMS

Standing along the bank of the Du River, what can be seen visibly is the chain
of make-shift toilets as if one was viewing a congested traffic from an
aerial view.


A survey conducted by FrontPageAfrica and proper examination of the make-shift toilets, found that a vast
majority of them are what can only be described as ‘death traps’ while
some are made only for those who are brave to use.


Children as young as four to six years can be seen squatting over tiny planks
that link these toilets to the shore for the toilets are built about
three to four feet away from the bank of the River. Since the children
are small and a lot of their ‘seniors’(older people) will be in queues,
they just cannot use the main toilets. Many use the tiny planks which
serve as entrances to these toilets.


In additional to the nasty drainages, some of the Township’s water-pipes
are opened for water supply just along the immediate edge of these
dangerous drainages. Some of these water pipes are concentrated right
within the same location of the man-holes of some of the public toilets.


SITUATION CREATES NEW FORM OF BUSINESS

The compulsory alternative discovered by these residents has eventually led
to the establishment of a new form of business that proves to be a
worthwhile venture. Owners or constructors of these ‘private’ toilets
over the River have gotten a form of self-employment that is indeed
sustaining them.


Wilfred Nyante, one of the owners of these numerous ‘water toilets’ explains
that he makes between LD$900 to $1,000 daily—the equivalent of about
USD$14.00-$15.00—from 5:30 AM to about 11PM.


Wilfred’s explanation serves as a confirmation that most of the residents prefer
to use the ‘water toilets’ to the government or public toilets which is
one reason why they (the owners)are able to make a living for
themselves – off toilet necessities.


“This pays my house rent, feed my family and sends my two children to school”, Nyante says.

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PostSubject: Re: Liberia's Sanitation Hell:   Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:48 am





CLARATOWN FILTH: The township is strategically located in the commercial district of Bushrod Island is just a stone throw from Central Monrovia and has an estimated 61,000 to 65,000 inhabitants. The sanitation problems range from lack of adequate toilet facilities to unkempt drainages and filthy environment.

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