Liberia: Liberians Say Government Needs to Do More to Protect the Environment

Pile of trash overflows trash containers on Center Street near the Palm Grove Cemetery in Monrovia, Liberia March 5, 2022. Picture taken March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Carielle Doe


….. The Afrobarometer survey shows that eight out of 10 Liberians (80%) say pollution is a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem in their community.

A large majority of Liberians say pollution is a serious problem facing their communities and needs greater attention from the government, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.

Citizens identify trash disposal, sanitation or human waste management, and air and water pollution as the most important environmental issues in their communities.

While close to half say ordinary citizens have the primary responsibility for reducing pollution and keeping communities clean, an equal proportion assign this task to their national and local governments.

Strong majorities give the government a gloomy rating for its performance in reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 

The survey finds that eight out of ten Liberians (80%) say pollution is a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem in their community. 

“Citizens cite trash disposal (31%), sanitation (27%), air pollution (16%), and pollution of water sources (15%) as the most important environmental issues in their community,”  the Afrobarometer survey shows.

“And more than eight in ten citizens (82%) say plastic bags are a major source of pollution in Liberia.”

The Afrobarometer survey comes as Liberia struggled with pollution issues stemming from various sources such as industrial activities, inadequate waste management systems, and deforestation.  In urban areas, air pollution from vehicle emissions, industrial facilities, and the burning of solid waste contributed to poor air quality.

Water pollution was also a concern, especially in areas lacking proper sanitation infrastructure. Contaminated water sources, inadequate waste disposal, and unregulated industrial practices contributed to water pollution, which posed risks to human health and ecosystems.

And the most practiced methods of waste disposal are open dumping, open burning, waste burial, and landfilling. The practices of indiscriminate dumping and open burning severely impact the environment.

Meanwhile, the Afrobarometer survey also revealed that almost half (46%) of Liberians say citizens are primarily responsible for reducing pollution and keeping communities clean.

About the same proportion assign the responsibility to the national (34%) or local (13%) government, the survey shows. 

A large majority of citizens, according to the survey give the government a poor rating for its performance in reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 

“Urban residents, economically better-off citizens, and those with higher education are particularly likely to be critical of the government’s efforts,” the Afrobarometer survey shows.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. 

Eight survey rounds in up to 39 countries have been completed since 1999. Round 9 surveys (2021/2023) are currently underway. Afrobarometer’s national partners conduct face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.

The Afrobarometer team in Liberia, led by the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG), interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,200 adult citizens between August 25 and September 2, 2022. Previous surveys were conducted in Liberia in 2008, 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2020.