Margibi County - Acute shortage of safe drinking water and poor sanitary conditions still remain a challenged in most rural communities across Liberia.
In low Margibi County, a county situated near the Capital Monrovia, residents continue to suffer from waterborne and other diseases, which sometimes lead to death due to lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation condition.
In a conversation with FrontPage Africa Thursday, residents of Nagbos and Kpuzu Towns say they lost six adults and over 20 children in 2017.
James Gboto, Nagbos town chief, told FrontPage Africa that residents of his town have been fetching water from uncovered wells and the bush for sanitation.
“We can go in the bush to toilet and some kind of water we get here is what we used to drink, but Red Cross just built us handpump.”
“People have been dying from running stomach because of the water we have been drinking and my stomach has also ran from this same water problem."
"We don’t have hospital here. We take people all the way to ELWA or Harbel. Sometime when we are going, the person can die on the way,” Chief Gboto explains.
The town, Gboto said, has over 250 dwellers and is among several other towns in the area that lack access to basic water and sanitation facilities.
But the hope of the inhabitants of fetch water was often dash during the rainy season due to flood, prior to initial interventions by Red Cross.
Many residents of the town are farmers, fishermen and produce charcoals as sources of livelihood.
The town claims government ignores their plights.
“We have cried on government over and over but no way. From the time the new representative Taponresa Tanpoweh get there we have not seen him.
"So, I myself will protect this help Redcross has given us by building toilet and handpump,” He added.
At the same time, the Town Chief of Kpuzu Town, Philip Isaac recounted how dreadful it was for his people to fetch water from unsafe site.
According to him, Du-River, which passes through the area, was the only source of fetching water but inhabitants used the same water for latrine purposes or sometimes the bushes.
“Our people used to go all the way to the Du-River to get drinking water and if the water dries, we have to dig near us to get water,” he said.
Flood also remains a major challenge for the community, destroying homes and other properties.
It disrupted their livelihood and during the rainy seasons the water source is often contaminated.
“Red Cross came to help us, they gave us hand-pump and toilet and we tell them thanks for all the good they do for us because we don’t have anything to give them, but want for them to do more and more,” he said.
“They give us zinc and now myself here, I am not able to buy zinc. I did not have safe drinking water, that Red Cross makes me to be drinking safe water. And toileting in good area.”
O’Neal Bestman, Communication and Reporting Officer for the LNRCS, said the society’s intervention is minimal considering the scale of disaster and its impacts.
Bestman emphasizing the need to scale-up and sustain the ongoing interventions to effectively address some of the most critical needs like chlorination of water points, provision of food and relief items, construction of water points and latrines, provision of psychosocial support (PSS) and health education.
Belongings of residents in nearby towns, including food, household and cooking utensils, beddings and other personal effects, were destroyed due to the flood.
“Most importantly, there is need to extend the response into recovery to assist the affected population to improve their living conditions,” Bestman said.
“Addressing the critical needs of affected people in the area will support and promote protection, dignity and enhance their resilience.”
The exposure of this affected population to unfavorable conditions makes them highly susceptible to a number of health and livelihood challenges.
Their livelihood sources and income generating activities are jeopardized, as their capital assets including garden, agricultural fields and goods and money were all lost to the flood.
According to Mr. Bestaman, if no further action is taken, the health, safety, and the protection of the affected population could degenerate and expose them to further hardship, which could have trigger down effect on the surrounding communities.
Satta Abdullai, another beneficiary who learned cosmetology.
Abdullai says, “Now I am a boss lady, I have my own shop at the Logan Town through the WIN program.”