19 November 2012

Liberia: Slum Dwellers Use Beaches, Creeks to Defecate

Residents of several slum communities have given justification why they usually defecate on beaches and creeks around Monrovia.

They claim that government has failed to provide social services like toilet, pipe-born water, access to public health and electricity.

Dwellers of various slums including West Point, Plumkor, Paity Town, 12th Street Community, Slipway, Snipper Hill, Clara Town, Peace Island, Cow Factory, Freeport and Doe communities said they usually use beaches and creeks for defecation.

The community dwellers made the assertion Saturday at a gathering organized by Green Advocates International in Clara Town. The meeting was held on the theme: "Slum and Squatter Communities In Monrovia: Our Stories." Green Advocates International is an environmental rights group that provides legal services for local communities across the country.

According to citizens who attended the participatory forum, they are compelled to defecate in the open due to the lack of public toilets in their communities.

"We usually use black plastic begs to defecate in them after which we throw them away as though you were flying a kite...we do this especially at night to ease ourselves," a resident of Paity town said.

Rev. Matthew Chea, Chairman of Paity Town, a slum community on Bushrod Island, said the community which has a population of over 5,000 persons has no public toilet.

He disclosed that over 200 homes in the community lack toilet facilities, thus creating environmental crisis in the community.

John Yekeh, a leader from Slipway, also a slum community in the heart of Monrovia, said the community has two non functional public toilets.

Clara Town Community Chairman David L. Jacobs indicated that his community, which has a population of 48,000 inhabitants, has 11 public toilets, most of which are clogged due to the inability of community people to keep it tidy.

Mr. David noted that due to the untidiness of the toilets in their community, most community members use the nearby river to defecate.

The community leaders also spoke about the lack of safe drinking water in their respective areas. They claim that government has failed to provide them running water.

However, some community leaders admitted that non-governmental organizations have helped them with hand pumps.

In Peace Island, residents say there are three hand pumps built by an NGO. A community leader from Peace Island said the pressure is on for additional hand pumps in the community.

Green Advocates Program Director, Francis Colee said the gathering was intended to document challenges slum dwellers are faced with.

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