Gbarpolu County: More Than 20 Schools Lack Safe Drinking Water in Belle District
Gbarpolu – The Belle District Education Officer (DEO) Mr. Latta V. Bemah says lack of safe drinking water on the schools’ campus in the entire district, a situation that is putting hundreds of students at risk.
Report by Henry B. Gboluma, [email protected], Contributor
“As we speak now only Belle Baloma Public School has a hand pump that was constructed by Catholic and reconditioned by the Lutheran Church and up to present; the hand pump is not functional,” Mr. Blama told a LocalVoicesLiberiareporter in Gbarpolu County.
School administrators usually advised students to take with them drinking water on their various campuses, according to the DEO.
He, however, said that is not solving the problem. According to him, in the absence of a hand pump, students are drinking from creeks, while others boycott class once they need to drink.
“And in that way, some will not return to school,” he added.
“When it comes to sanitation, it does not matter how populated the school is, because they have to drink. Moreover, if the water they are to drink is not safe, it is a serious problem -, especially during the rainy season time.”
He is appealing to NGOs and the Ministry of Public Works to ensure that schools have access to safe drinking water.
Belle district has 21 school – sixteen public, four community, and one private school. There are 84 public school teachers and 19 community volunteers and private teachers.
More than 3,000 students enrolled during the 2017/2018 academic year and 2,891 (1606 males and 1286 females) students have enrolled in this academic year.
Excluding Belle Fassama School, students do not pay tuition in the 20 other schools, Mr. Bemah said.
He attributed the decline in the students’ enrollment to “money consciousness”.
“Students going to market and wanting fast money, those are some of the major reasons for them being out of school,” he said.
“very regrettable that teacher are been paid and students refusing to go to school.”
Belle district is part of the three administrative districts that make-up electoral district two in Gbarpolu County. The district has 15,257 people according to the 2008 national census.
The livelihood of people in that part of the country is heavily depended on farming, artisanal mining, and petty trading. Belle is a hard-to-reach and inaccessible to GSM network.
Editor’s Note: This story is a production of LocalVoicesLiberia, a network of Liberian journalists working in the 15 counties to report underreported stories.