Friday, 5 March 2010

Stopping needless deaths in Liberia

Muyatwa Sitali
WASH Consortium / Oxfam GB

Sitali is working on the Queue in Liberia - an amazing five day attempt in different slums across the country. Read on to find out why the issue of sanitation is so pressing in Liberia...

Access to safe water and sanitation facilities remains extremely low in both urban and rural areas of Liberia. Only 1 in 7 have access to safe sanitation facilities and only 1 in 4 people have access to safe water. As a result, Liberians are highly vulnerable to preventable waterborne and vector-borne diseases. Together, lack of safe water for drinking and household use, poor sanitation and bad hygiene practices cause about 18 percent of all deaths in Liberia (WHO, 2008). These are needless deaths, which can be prevented if investments for the sector were improved, if hygiene messages were targeted and if leadership and policies were enhanced.

The Worlds Longest Toilet Queue is therefore a necessary undertaking to raise attention to the sanitation and water crisis. In Liberia, the three million people (out of a population of 3.5 million) who lack access to safe and improved sanitation facilities are forced to use the bush, or the beach and some rely on very risky latrines perched on top of rivers. This exposes thousands of people, especially children and women, to security risks in addition to the health hazards that face the whole population.

Continued neglect of the sector will weigh down other sectors such as education and agriculture as these rely on a healthy nation. The health sector will continue to spend millions of dollars on curing diseases that can be easily prevented. As the old adage says, ‘prevention is better than cure’ - investment in the water and sanitation sector is an effective way of reducing costs and increasing benefits. The World's Longest Toilet Queue therefore should continue to raise attention to the water and sanitation crisis and seek decisive action in Liberia and other parts of the world that suffer with the needless deaths caused by poor sanitation, dirty water and bad hygiene.


Jennifer Selvaraj said...

That's nice....we are also working in 2 slums in India on the queue and will be organising the same on the 19th March. If anyone intrested to join please let me know.....

Stephanie Nwadiei said...

same thing with Nigeria and Ghana.