The sanitation nightmare in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, is a serious health issue that government has given less attention to over the 12-year regime of the Sirleaf Administration.
No one entering Monrovia for the first time will be taught to know that this is a serious problem in the capital as evidenced by the filth all over the city. The Stockpiles of garbage from the commercial hub of Red Light to Central Monrovia, and then Duala leaves no doubt that this health situation remains unaddressed.
Stockpiles of garbage, in fact, is not the only object to introduce Monrovia as a filthy city to a visitor. Deliberate spread of solid wastes all along the streets and the habit of people urinating in public grossly contribute to the sanitation challenges facing the city.
Besides the embarrassing sight of it, misplaced waste causes residents of the city to constantly inhale fetid odor.
What is most glaring to attest to government’s failure in addressing the sanitation problem is the lack of public toilet facilities in Monrovia. The fact that public toilet is absent in the city leads many to urinate on walls of houses and fences, not regarding rules of public decency and the right of others to their properties.
It is indisputable that in many instances people have been disgraced by nature as a result of lack of toilet facility in the city, and those who have houses without a toilet have nowhere to defecate but in black plastic bags in corners of their houses to throw over other buildings or in the street.
It can be recalled that while the Daily Observer was still on McDonald Street in central Monrovia, an elderly woman was forced to publicly defecate near a fence at the bus parking where she was waiting to board a bus. This happened because there is no public toilet facility in Monrovia for the use of the masses converging there for business and other reasons.
The challenge of sanitation is even affecting our God-given natural resources, including rivers. Because there is no workable plan to tackle sanitation issue, people go as far as building shanty structures near the river and in the mangrove swamp to use as toilets thereby polluting the water for the aquatic species therein.
In as much as health authorities and city governments continue to be inattentive to sanitation, so will residents continue to be complacent in polluting the environment. For Instance, see our naturally beautified beaches; how they have been defaced with human waste and to the extent that people cannot freely jog there or stand there to appreciate and admire the wonders of nature.
Apart from the ugly outlook on the environment poor sanitation brings, there is a serious health implication to consider. One of such is Malaria, a disease transmitted through the bite of an Anopheles mosquito carrying Plasmodium (Darla Burke, Healthline 2017).
Although research has not shown updated statistics of Malaria in Liberia of recent, most clinical cases in Monrovia and rural parts of Liberia are mainly Malaria, Diarrhea and skin disease; sicknesses that are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and other insects that breed in an environment with poor sanitation.
The issue of poor sanitation was referenced in 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when the deadly Ebola that claimed thousands of lives broke out here. At the CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia during a lecture forum where our Diplomatic Correspondent, Joaquin Sendolo was in attendance, health experts attributed causes of malaria, diarrhea, and the raging Ebola at the time to an environment with poor sanitation.
This is not the first time the Daily Observer is raising the alarm about the implications of poor sanitation in Liberia and especially Monrovia. Even at the inception of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, this paper asked a senior official of the Ministry of Health about his stance on sanitation, and all he could say was, “I am not here to clean anyone’s backyard.”
Having begun the campaign earlier, we are excited to see at this time to see the Deputy Director of the Public Health Institute of Liberia (PHIL), Musuka Fallah calling on the government to attach seriousness to sanitation.
Mr. Fallah early last week began the awareness, calling for an urgent need to address the sanitation problem confronting Monrovia and other parts of the country. This campaign is not meant for the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration that has already failed to perform the task and is on its way out.
The focus is now on the next administration to commence fulfillment of promises to the Liberian people at this eye-catching point to give a good image of the capital and pave a way to a healthy environment.
We hope the incoming 54th Legislature can even draft and pass into law legal instruments that will complement the strength of city ordinance laws in the country to reinforce the message of keeping our cities and the rest of our surroundings clean.