Liberia as a nation is still grappling with issues and the challenges faced by ordinary Liberians who do not have toilets in their various homes.
According to statistics, only about 17 % of Liberians have toilets at their homes.
In a bid to ascertain various conditions at Public Latrines in greater Monrovia and its surroundings, WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia embarked on an assessment of public toilets and the challenges care takers encounter on a daily basis.
The two-week assessment took WASH Journalists to several parts of the capital and its environs, including Paynesville looking at conditions of toilets, and sampling the views of caretakers and users as part of the global celebration marking World Toilet Day.
About 119 toilet facilities were visited in Paynesville and Monrovia cities. 33 in Paynesville and 86 in Monrovia.
Areas visited in Paynesville include ELWA Junction and adjacent communities-4, LBS-Sand Town and GSA Road Communities-6, Duport Road market and community-5, Redlight community and Gogbachop market-11, Pipeline community-4, and Jacob town market and community-3.
For Monrovia city, areas visited include Slipway community-13, Soniewhien community and Rally Time market-6, Claratown community and market-19, Doe community-14, Jamaica road market, community and Stockton Creak-11, Bushord Island-21 (Logantown market and community, and Bongmines Bridge and adjacent community), and Gardnersville-Association of the Blind-2.
For Paynesville, most of the public toilets are privately owned and that most of the structures are built with mud or concrete blocks.
For Monrovia, of the total number of toilets assessed, at least 9 latrines were constructed by the city government known as government toilet/s.
The rest are privately owned and most of them are makeshift structures built over the Mesurado or Due river, Stockton creak and in swampy areas. These toilets, most of them are even risky, especially for children.
Most of the latrines have caretakers who collect little fees as compensation or to help maintain the facilities.
At these public facilities, caretakers informed WASH Journalists that managing the affairs of such a facility is a gigantic challenge.
The caretakers explained that at times users refused to paid for the maintenance and sustainability of the facilities.
They disclosed that on several occasions the facilities are broken into by unscrupulous individuals who have chosen to not pay fees for the usage of the toilet.
The Public Toilet administrators noted that many communities residents even refuse to pay with the notion that the facilities should be free of charge.
They asserted that some users even rein insults on them, and calling them all sorts of names.
A caretaker in the commercial district of Red Light told WASH Journalists that he has even being blended as feces hero in the community, something he described as a negative reception and that the community does not appreciate his effort.
Another caretaker in central Monrovia interestingly said some of the residents in his community refused to pay and use the public toilet and are reportedly using unfinished buildings to defecate or engaged in open defecation especially during night hours.
“Generating funds to maintain this public toilet is a major challenge”, he added.
When quizzed what they expect from the government, donor partners and citizens, the caretakers called on government to liaise with international partners in providing more public toilet facilities for community residents.
For their part, some users of the facility commended caretakers for providing the services they are enjoying and encouraged them to continue.
The residents said if these facilities were not available and caretakers not around to provide services, it would have resulted to an appalling sanitation crisis in their various communities.
Residents, especially of the capital, Monrovia said most of the houses built in their communities were constructed without toilets.
They said due to the lack of toilets in their various homes, the Soniewhein drainage for many years has been used for the deposit of feces by residents.
WASH R&E “Media” Network discovered that the Soniewhein drainage is also used as a septic tank for some houses.
The situation is polluting the community due to bad odor from the drainage.
The residents complained that the city is over populated, and that the issue of land space to construct more latrines with septic tanks, is difficult.