19 November 2012

Liberia: Report - 82 Percent of Liberian Women Lack Safe Toilets

As Liberia joins countries the world over to celebrate this year's World Toilet Day today, Monday, November 19, 82% of Liberian women are said to be without a safe toilet thereby increasing their risk of illness, shame, harassment and violence.

A Report released by WaterAid says over eight in ten women in Liberia have no access to a safe toilet, threatening their health and exposing them to shame, fear and even violence.

According to Mr. Apollos Nwafor, Country Representative of WaterAid Liberia, this means that on World Toilet Day, 19th November, 1.6 million Liberian women and girls lack safe and adequate sanitation and of those over 900 thousand don't have a toilet at all.

The Report further said the lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods, and that women and girls living in Liberia without toilet facilities spend 165 million hours each year finding a place to go in the open. According to the Report, poor hygiene has serious implications on health, causing over a thousand Liberian mothers to lose a child to diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of adequate sanitation and clean water every year.

The WaterAid Country Representative said when women don't have a safe, secure and private place to go to the toilet they are exposed and put in a vulnerable position and when they relieve themselves in the open they risk harassment. Women are reluctant to talk about it or complain, but the world cannot continue to ignore this." Mr. Nwafor asserted.

According to him, on this World Toilet Day, WaterAid is joining the call of hundreds of organisations around the world, for governments to keep the promises they have made to get adequate sanitation and safe water to the world's poorest people. Mr. Nwafor also said other studies from Uganda, Kenya, India and the Solomon Islands show that such experiences of fear, indignity and violence are common place wherever women lack access to safe and adequate sanitation.

He further encouraged all stakeholders to use this day (World Toilet Day) to stand up for women and hold decision makers to account to "Keep their promises". Mr Nwafor said WaterAid's vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. According to him, WaterAid as an international organisation working in 27 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world's poorest communities.

He also said Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 17.5 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 12.9 million people with sanitation. He maintained that WaterAid prioritizes access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene because globally around 2,000 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

Mr. Nwafor further said 783 million people in the world live without safe water which is roughly one in eight of the world's population, and that 2.5 billion people live without sanitation which is 39% of the world's population.

Meanwhile, this year's World Toilet Day is celebrated under the global them: "Keep Your Promises" on safe drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), with a focus on Women access to safe toilets. In Liberia, World Toilet Day will be officially celebrated in three counties; Montserrado, Bomi and River Gee.

For Bomi and River Gee counties, there will be a grand parade throughout the principle streets of Tubmanburg and Fishtown Cities respectively, and will climax with the presentation of a Position Statement to the two County Superintendents for onward presentation to Present Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. For Monrovia the parade will commence at eight in the morning in front of the B.W. Harris School on Broad Street and will end at the Foreign Affairs Ministry with a Position Statement to President Sirleaf, WASH Goodwill Ambassador for Africa.

A release from the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia says World Water Day celebration in Liberia is coordinated by the Liberia CSOs WASH Network, in partnership with other WASH sector actors.

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