LIBERIA: Poor Sanitation amidst Ebola Crisis

From: WASH R&E “Media” Media – Poor sanitation, lack of safe drinking water and increasing wave of related disease outbreaks are making life much more unbearable for many Liberians and other residents in and around Monrovia, especially in slum communities.

Pile of Garbage along the Somalia Drive in Gardnerville

Pile of Garbage along the Somalia Drive in Gardnerville

Huge Pile of Dirt not far from Jacob Town Market, long the Somalia Drive as a concerned Liberian called for intervention

Huge Pile of Dirt not far from Jacob Town Market, long the Somalia Drive as a concerned Liberian called for intervention

Dumpsite at Rally Town Market

Dumpsite at Rally Town Market

But, with the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country there are fears amongst residents that the virus could spread like wide fire due to unsanitary environment in most of these slum communities.

“The lack of water and proper waste disposal are bigger threats to our lives due to the risk of water-borne diseases in the face of the Ebola Virus in Liberia, Ruldolph Weah”, a resident of Soniwhien asserted.

As part of the continuation of its Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation sponsored by WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia had been looking at the Poor Sanitation and its impact on the country amidst the efforts of Government and International Partners to curtail the deadly Ebola virus.

According to experts, Poor sanitation, a condition that has overwhelmed many of the capitals that are hard-hit among other factors, plays a key role in the spread of the Ebola virus.

Before the outbreak of the virus, the issue of sanitation in Liberia has been appalling and remains a challenge to national government.

At present, Government of Liberia is finding it difficult to grapple with poor sanitation, as the streets and market centers are the scene of huge stock piles of garbage.

Along the Somalia Drive, the vivid picture of this can been seen at the Jacob Town Market where marketers are transacting businesses in filth.

For many of these marketers, there is no option to relocate from the filth because according to them, the place is where they fetch for their daily bread to sustain their families amidst tough economic conditions in the country.

“The fight against this virus will not be successful, if our surrounding is not kept clean, Jerome Quiah”, a resident of Jacob Town Community expressed.

The pile of garbage which is not too far from the market center is transforming on a daily basis into a mountain, as garbage companies responsible to collect the solid waste are not doing so on time.

Keeping the environment dirty is a favorable breeding ground for the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

Slum Communities like Slipway, Clara Town, Soniwhien, West Point and Samuel K. Doe Community are areas that stand the hard risk.

The provision of safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities will greatly buttress efforts of government and partners in containing the virus.

In an interview with the WASH Media Network, residents in these areas are calling on national government to provide safe drinking water, rehabilitate existing toilet facilities and ensure that solid waste is dispose properly.

The timely disposal of solid waste from these communities and market centers will play a pivotal role in containing the virus, especially symptoms associated with this deadly virus which include diarrhea, cholera among others.

On the issue of hand washing, many Liberians in and around the city of Monrovia are robustly putting hand washing into practice which is one of the key requisites in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus.

Many Experts in the WASH Sector of Liberia, have welcomed the washing of hands, and hope that after the virus is contained, they will still prioritize this sanitary practice.

Many of the marketers and slum dwellers interviewed, mentioned hand washing as key preventive method, but argued that poor sanitation remains a threat.

They want government and partners address the issue of poor sanitation, as attention is now given to the deadly Ebola virus.