Many express interests in NHA intervention with partners H4H, Cities Alliance
Representatives of the over 70,000 residents of the Township of West Point yesterday in an interactive forum, identified what they claimed were persistent risks and hazards that confront them daily in a congested community that lacks the most basic essentials standard of living.
They, among other things, informed representatives from Cities Alliance, Habitat for Humanity and National Housing Authority, during the team’s information gathering visit to the township that they are in constant fear of being forcibly evicted from the community.
The interactive meeting was purposely to provide the residents the opportunity to speak out their fears and their concerns as the Liberian government, through the NHA is working with partners, Cities Alliance and Habitat for Humanity, as well as the South Africa Department of Human Settlement to develop an MOU to guide its Liberia Country Program.
The objective is to eventually upgrade the Township of West Point and Clara Town as a pilot project that would fit in their overall Liberia Country Program (LCP) to build resilient communities as part of the government’s pro-poor agenda.
NHA was represented by Es-Samir Bropleh, Coordinator of its Slum Upgrade Unit, while Cities Alliance and Habitat for Humanity were represented by Tamzin Hudson, Sanjeevani Singh, Jane Otima, and Rodha Goremuchoche.
Residents spoke about their fears of what they described as endemic conditions that affect their lives and those of their neighbors. They identified risks factors as erosion, fire, flooding, poor sanitation, poor health, land tenure, use of cardboard as ceiling and decorations that are easily combustible and which often results in raging fire that more often than not destroy their possessions but also claim lives as well.
They also said that careless use of candles and mosquito coils are major causes fire in the township which according to them is worrisome but not as compared to the fears and worries of forceful eviction from a place which they have inhabited for over 50 years.
Mr. Bropleh allayed their fears of forced eviction by the government to which they contributed much to usher into office.He also assured them that their partners have completed a one-year assessment on how to upgrade slum communities and therefore they were collecting information to develop guidelines that Liberia could use to develop slum communities in the country.
George Y. Gleh, ll, West Point Township Data Coordinator also contributed to the process when he led the visitors to understand how people live and manage their lives, their expectations and fears and made the position of the visitors clear to them.
As the interactive discussions went on, the representatives of the three organizations took notes that they would use to develop a memorandum of understanding to be signed this Thursday, the last day of their four-day gathering in Monrovia.
Several representatives from Peace Island Community, another slum community in Congo Town, participated in the discussions. The secretary-general of the Federation of Liberian Urban Poor Silvers, Noah Doyah told the gathering that they never chose to live in slum communities, but they are residing there because of poverty.
“It is because of conditions of poverty that have compelled us to live in such a poorly served and overcrowded community and therefore if the government is prepared to assist us, along with its partners, then we are happy,” he said. He expressed appreciation to the government and partners and recommended that they should consider the use of local materials that may not be too costly to rebuild slum communities in the country.
Those in attendance included Mrs. Leona Monger, chairperson, vice chairperson Marie Yarway and member Juah Kofa and Cities Alliance. The NHA, and Habitat for Humanity’s team paid a similar visit to Clara Town and met with residents, including landlords and tenants.
Cities Alliance and Habitat for Humanity, as well as the South Africa government’s Department of Human Settlement, began phase two of a four-day ‘Facilitating Increased Access to Affordable Housing through Inclusive Market Approaches’ meeting (May 21-24) in Monrovia. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is also a participant. At the end of the meeting, an MOU will be signed to guide them for the upgrading of slum communities.