WaterAid Report: 72% of Liberians without Toilet Facilities

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The British charity WaterAid has launched a global sanitation report in Liberia as part of this year’s World Toilet Day celebration held on November 19, revealing that in Liberia, over 1.6 million people – approximately one-third of the nation’s population — practice open defecation as a result of lack of access to sanitation, such as toilets.

The report, “Overflowing Cities: The State of the World’s Toilets 2016,” reveals that in addition to the 1,620,000 (one million, six hundred twenty thousand) people in Liberia practicing open defecation, urban dwellers living without improved sanitation is equivalent to 72 percent, while 500 plus children died from preventable diseases.

The report examines the state of urban sanitation around the world as an issue that is becoming more pressing as two-thirds of the global population is reportedly expected to live in towns and cities by 2050. This year’s program was held under theme, “Toilets and Jobs,” with focus on how sanitation or the lack of it can impact people’s livelihoods.

In Liberia, the report said 32 percent of children under five are stunted as a result of diseases associated with poor sanitation.

The Team Leader of WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone, Chuchu Selma, called on the national government to ensure that everyone living in urban areas, including slums, have toilet facilities.

Mr. Selma wants increased budgets from governments and donors on sanitation, clean water and hygiene for the urban poor; he also stressed the need for coordination among government, partners and residents to ensure improved sanitation services are provided.

He also urged corporate organizations to play a pivotal role in society by supporting initiatives aimed at raising the profile of slum dwellers when it comes to sanitation.

Selma then used the occasion to admonish Liberians from all walks of life to give sanitation workers respect, better incentives and decent salaries

He said India ranks tops for having the greatest number of urbanites living without a safe, private toilet – 157 million – as well as the most urban dwellers practicing open defecation – 41 million.

“Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, is falling far behind in reaching its urban population with a toilet, while China is making some strides in reaching its urban population with sanitation,” Mr. Selma said.

From statistics, Mr. Selma said, around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhea, which is caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children each day or one child every two minutes.

“War-ravaged South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is the worst country in the world for urban sanitation in percentage terms. An estimated 84 percent of urbanites have no access to a toilet and every other urban-dweller there practices open defecation,” he said.

He said the report examines the problems facing more than 700 million urban dwellers around the world living without decent sanitation.

Selma added that an estimated 100 million of these have no choice but to defecate in the open, using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags, dubbed “flying toilets.”

“One child dies every two minutes from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Globally 159 million children under five have their physical and cognitive developments stunted; many of such cases are caused from repeated bouts of diarrhea attributed to dirty water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene,” Selma said.

The WaterAid report coincided with programs marking this year’s World Toilet Day, which also talked about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet.

The report named South Sudan, Madagascar, Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ethiopia, Liberia, DR Congo and Uganda as the 10 countries topping the list with the greatest percentage of the urban population living without safe toilets.

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