22 November 2017

Liberia: 'Support for Sanitation Urgently Needed'

Stakeholders and students parading through Bentol City in commemoration of World Toilet Day.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Deputy Director General for Technical Services at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), has said worldwide reports indicate that over 4.5 billion people live without "safely managed sanitation," particularly toilet facilities.

In the local context, Dr. Fallah said about 7,000 people who live in West Point, one of the slum communities of Monrovia, have access to only four toilet facilities, which he described as worrisome when it comes to curtailing some of the diseases associated with lack of toilets.

Addressing a program in observance of World Toilet Day, Dr. Fallah said lack of toilets is a violation of the peoples' rights, "and many of the users are women and girls whose rights are being violated because it also takes away their dignity and sense of entitlement."

"This globally precarious situation," Dr. Fallah said, "calls for urgent attention for more support and awareness to ensure that one of the major constraints that the world currently faces is addressed.

World Toilet Day was established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001 and in 2013, the UN passed a resolution recognizing World Toilet Day as an official UN international day. As the official convener of World Toilet Day, UN Water coordinates activities and actions, using a dedicated website and a task group.

Dr. Fallah in photo with some of the students who participated in yesterday's World Toilet Day held in Bentol, outside Monrovia when he (Fallah) calls for everyone's support to address sanitation in Liberia

The disparities that exist in mankind's living standard is as a result of the lack of access to proper sanitation, which is highlighted by the 16th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), said Fallah, noting that by 2030, the SDGs aim to reach everyone with sanitation, halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and the safe reuse of such materials.

"The world is indeed an unequal place. We have people building houses close to each other, but don't even have modern toilet facilities. Challenged families have these situations, especially in Liberia," Dr. Fallah said.

"We hope that more people will have access to toilets by 2030 as indicated by UN to ensure that some of the illnesses associated with lack of toilets can be minimized."

Amos Gobrie of the Ministry of Health said managing human waste (poo) remains cardinal to avoid some of the common diseases, including diarrhea, which can be prevented in various homes, communities and institutions in Liberia and other parts of the world.

Idriss Kamara, Liberia WASH Consortium Coordinator, pledged his organization's commitment to address sanitation issues in Liberia, noting that it will greatly help the society.

"We need to see this health issue as significant to the world and not just Liberia. We need to ensure that many of those affected by lack of sanitation (be enabled to acquire toilets) by 2030," he said.

According to him, there is a need for everyone to continue to promote the idea for every home and institution to have a toilet, calling on the students to ensure that the message reaches their various communities.

For this to be achieved, "We need everyone's poo-poo to be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way," he recommended.

Dr. Fallah in photo with stakeholders and students at the World Toilet Day celebration held in Bentol, outside Monrovia

According to UN Water, today, billions of people around the world lack sanitation systems or are either non-existent or ineffective, thereby causing human waste to contaminate communities and killer diseases to spread and undermine children's survival.

World Toilet Day (WTD) is an official United Nations internationally observed day celebrated on November 19 to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis. This is done through public communications, campaigns, reports and events.

The program was attended by students, representatives from civil society organizations, authorities of the Ministry of Health, representatives from Water Aid and Oxfam among others.

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