As part of their exclusive media focus on sanitation, the Liberian chapter of the Water and Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) Journalists has called on the Monrovia City Government to design new strategies for the collection and disposal of garbage, especially dealing with waste management in a sustainable way.
According to a recent WASH survey, poor sanitation in and around Monrovia continues to be a serious problem, especially the collection and disposal of garbage.
Poor sanitation, WASH says, gives many infections the ideal opportunity to spread. Waste and excreta are fertile materials for flies to breed on, and unsafe water to drink, wash with or swim in are among the major causes of human parasitic diseases.
The group believes that sanitation has important implications for health and human capital development. Poor sanitation, they said, causes intestinal diseases that reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients and contribute to malnutrition. These diseases kill babies, accordingly, stunt the physical and cognitive development of surviving children, and ultimately reduce their human capital development and earning potential later in life.
“Solid waste management is arguably the greatest public health threat in Monrovia. Virtually no waste management sector, along with a lack of proper toilets, mean household trash, human feces, and hazardous medical waste are randomly disposed of throughout the city, in some areas swelling to piles large enough to block roads,” WASH said in a statement released in Monrovia over the weekend.
They said children walk barefoot through trash heaps, picking through piles that can contain used syringes and bloodied bandages.
“There is a serious problem of hygiene in Monrovia as residents continue to throw waste, including feces in the streets, especially in crowded communities and market sites.”
This situation, WASH observed, has become so embarrassing, because it does not only give a picture to an emerging health crisis, but gives the city a poor human face.
Pedestrians usually struggle to move along the main streets competing with piles of garbage and moving vehicles.
“Marketers and residents who are considered the producers of the garbage are always at the mercy of fate as they complain on a daily basis of poor sanitation.”
Most of the garbage sites WASH described “are polluted with an offensive odor of stale water serving as a breeding place for flies and mosquitoes where water accumulating at dumpsites is spilling into uncovered wells throughout the city.