The Young Men’s Christian Association of Liberia (YMCA) over the weekend turned over a six-room modern pit latrines and a hand pump to residents of West Point Community.
Madam Vivien Beh, YMCA Slums Project Coordinator, said the construction of the two facilities is the entity’s contribution to communities in Monrovia.
“The projects were initiated with support from COMIC Relief and Y-CARE International, and are aimed at giving back to the people of Liberia,” Ms. Beh said.
Addressing beneficiaries during the dedication, Ms. Beh said it is time for Liberians to take ownership of their country by engaging in meaningful activities that will impact the people’s lives.
She urged community residents to maintain the facilities well so that they may last long.
She further noted that while it is good to question and hold government accountable for management of the country's resources, Liberians are equally under moral obligation to contribute toward the betterment of their communities.
Citizens have the responsibility to clean their environment and maintain the facilities government and other groups provides.
The YMCA’s Slum Project Coordinator said, “Not everything government will provide. Liberians must undertake community development projects that will move the country forward, rather than depending on government for all the needs.”
She noted that West Point lacks basic social facilities, including public toilets, and it is against this backdrop that the YMCA and its partners decided to construct latrines and hand pumps for over 12,000 inhabitants of that community.
“This facility will be managed by the community and not the YMCA; therefore, do not wait for YMCA to tell you what to do or how to manage your facilities,” she stated.
She said the YMCA only serves as the technical support arm for the Slum Dwellers Association of Liberia (SLUMDAL), enhancing its capacity to advocate for slum dwellers.
The YMCA and its partners have been working in West Point and Slipway communities for one and a half years.
“As long as the community continues to support the Liberia YMCA, we will work together to develop the slum communities.” Madam Beh assured.
Responding to the gesture, West Point Township Commissioner, Miatta Flowers, said the project was timely, and promised the YMCA that the facilities will be used wisely, and maintained well.
Commissioner Flowers thanked the YMCA family and partners for their farsightedness, adding, “This is a clear indication of your love for, and interest in the people of West Point.”
She said over the years the township has struggled with the need for latrines and safe drinking water in the community.
She then called on residents to maintain the facilities for their own good.
West Point is the largest slum community in Monrovia with over 100,000 residents who dwell in clustered houses.
Due to a lack of space, most of the houses lack toilet facilities. Residents therefore used the Atlantic Beach as do other slum communities in Sinkor, until the Liberia Maritime sent in a task force to keep the beaches around Monrovia clean.
In the past, those who could not go to the beach used plastic bags to defecate, which then landed over others’ rooftops during the night hours.
The YMCA of Liberia, with support from COMIC Relief and Y-CARE International, is implementing the Slums Development Project Titled: “Young People as Agents of Change: Helping to Transform Slum Settlements.”
The project is being carried out in two slum settlements in Monrovia—West Point and Slip-Way—and is expected to last for three years.
It is aimed at strengthening community residents to improve their living conditions in these communities, and driving young people as catalysts for change.