Sea Erosion Destroys Several Sanitation Facilities, Increases Open Defecation in West Point Township

EU Sanitation Project in White Flowers Community, West Point overtaken by sea erosion
EU Sanitation Project in White Flowers Community, West Point overtaken by sea erosion

The issue of sea erosion especially in the city of Monrovia has become a serious issue of concern, with a focus on West Point Township.

West Point is an over populated municipality situated in the Liberian capital, Monrovia with thousands of inhabitants, mainly less-privileged.

A house with a tiger worms toilet lying in ruins after sea erosion
A house with a tiger worms toilet lying in ruins after sea erosion

One of the major problems confronting this area is the availability of public sanitation facilities. Both residential homes and public facilities in this area were constructed without toilets.

Several residents in West Point use the beach side or goal post toilet situated on the Mesurado River nearby to defecate.

In a bid to remedy this old age problem, the Government of Liberia and international partners in 2014launched several Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Projects, ranging from the European Union Urban WASH Project, to the Liberia WASH Consortium/Oxfam Tiger Worms Sanitation Project, among others.

Haji Massaquoi pointing to a house with a tiger worms toilet destroyed by the sea
Haji Massaquoi pointing to a house with a tiger worms toilet destroyed by the sea

In the same vain, the Liberia Maritime Authority under government in 2011 launched a campaign to keep beaches in and around the capital clean.

That Project brought some level of improvement in the sanitary condition of the beaches; West Point Beach is no exception.

But recent sea erosion has undermined the efforts of both the Liberian Government and partners working in the WASH sector to create an enabling WASH environment in the Township of West Point.

Most of the sanitation facilities have been buried under water due to the rapid advance of the sea in the Township of West Point.

As a result of the destruction of these facilities, many of the residents have resulted to getting involved in Open defecation.

Concrete Septic Tank used for sanitation project, now destroyed by the sea
Concrete Septic Tank used for sanitation project, now destroyed by the sea

Every side of the beach, ranging from White Flowers Community to the area where the Ghanaian Fishing Men occupy is been used by most of the residents for defecation.

“Several of the facilities constructed by our International partners have been destroyed as a result of the sea erosion” Haji Massaquoi, WASH C0-Coordinator of Township told WASH Media Network-Liberia as part of the Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation with support from WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“What I am seeing if nothing is done here, surely there will be a serious health problem in this area”, another resident noted.

Human feces can be seen all over the beach, while domesticated animals are also seen in search of food in the huge stockpile of garbage and feces along the West Point beach.

Several of the houses in which the tiger worm’s toilets were constructed are lying in ruins with septic tanks buried under water.

Most of the occupants of these houses who are now displaced said before the erosion, the sanitary condition on the beach side was improving gradually.

Interestingly, in this unhealthy condition, many cook shops are operating along the beach side with many customers trooping in to purchase food.

“I am compared to cook and sell food in this area, because this where my food is bought faster”, a cook shop owner asserted.

Besides the poor sanitary condition in the area, access to safe drinking water is another major challenge facing residents.

Ina bid to access safe water, some residents who can afford, purchase water in sachets or bottled water.

For those who can’t, have to drink water from unprotected sources like open wells or catch rainwater from mostly rusty roofs for survival.

Some of the residents are calling on the Government to ensure proper relocation in order to save the lives of thousands of inhabitants and to prevent the outbreak of major health problems.

As part of the launch of the 3.3 million euro Sanitation Project in the Township of West Point, its target was to benefit 50,000 men, women and children to access appropriate sanitation facilities and hygiene messages, and 250,000 residents expected to have benefited from solid waste and drainage improvements.

The Project targeted population in four slum communities in Monrovia to have increased sanitation coverage and improved hygiene practices.

The four communities include Clara Town, Logan Town, New Kru Town and West Point with a focus on market vendors and institutions (schools and health centers).

About 300 beneficiaries; 100 females, 50 children and 150 males from White Flowers Community in the Township of West Point were amongst the first to benefit from the start of the Project, which has now been destroyed by the sea erosion.

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About Cholo Brooks 13193 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.