Sanitation Crisis Hits Slipway

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Near the historic Providence Island in Monrovia is a community that has experienced and continues to go through the hurdles of poor sanitation.

Slipway Community is amongst several slum communities in and around Monrovia lacking safe drinking water as well as improved sanitation and hygiene facilities.

Slipway, with a population of over 15,000 inhabitants, often suffer the effects of a poor drainage system, garbage pollution and open defecation.

With the rainy season having set in, the situation has gone from bad to worse, reaching crisis point.

The community has been placed under the spotlight due to said crucial sanitation issues, as part of the Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation by the WASH Reporters& Editors Network of Liberia, with support from WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.

During an assessment visit to the community, residents complained about the lack of hand pumps, public toilets and a conducive and hygienic environment.

The majority of the community's residents are said to be using the Du River as a public latrine.

Most of the residents build what are known as "goal post toilets" on the river, where they go to defecate, thus polluting the river.

A resident told WASH R&E of a recent drowning in th commnity. A boy slipped and fell into the river while using a goal post toilet on the Du River.

The residents, however, said despite the risk they continue to do so because there are no other options.

“We have to stand in long queues, especially during morning and evening hours, awaiting  others to come out of the few toilets to also have access”, a resident, Cecelia Nyenpan, disclosed. "We the women and children arethe worst victims," she pointed out, describing the situation as embarrassing.

The issues of open urination and defecation is seriously contributing to the unsanitary condition in the community.

Many houses in the areas were constructed without taking into consideration the importance of toilets, resulting in open defecation and the throwing of feces everywhere.

“During night hours, plastic bags are used by some residents to defecate; and [they are disosed of] in the open, at times in the drainage,” Rufus Towerson, a prominent resident informed the WASH Media Network.

According to Mr. Towerson, feces bags often land on the zinc roofs of houses; and when the rain falls, the water is even used by some residents for cooking.

He also attributed the poor sanitary condition to those residing upwards of the Crown Hill community, who lack toilet facilities too.

Mr. Towerson noted that these individuals defecate in plastic and throw the feces from the top of their community into Slipway which is located beneath Crown Hill.

This practice, Towerson pointed out, poses a danger to the residents as well as the environment in which they live, especially during the rainy season.

WASHR&E also gathered that due to the clogging of the drainage system in the community, when it rains, many parts of the community get flooded, making life unbearable for the  residents.

Access to safe drinking water is another factor hampering the lives of residents in the area.

Residents informed the WASH Media Network that many of them have to walk across the Gabriel Tucker Bridge connecting Central Monrovia to Bushrod Island, in search of safe drinking water.

The Slipway Community does not have access to safe drinking water and lacks hand pumps facilities as well.

Many of the pumps provided by a few nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are damaged due to poor maintenance, lack of community ownership, or increased pressure by users.

The residents told WASH R&E they usually buy a gallon of pump water from the Clara Town Community between50  to 75L$, something they described as very expensive and unbearable.

Slipway residents are therefore appealing to the Government of Liberia and partners in the WASH sector to provide water and sanitation facilities for them.

They also appealed for assistance in addressing the sanitation crisis, which could result in a health crisis if nothing is urgently done to address the situation.

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