Liberia: Acute Water Shortage Makes Women Urinating in Buckets in GOL Ministries & Agencies
Monrovia – The acute shortage of water, which has hit some parts of Monrovia, is having a serious toll on one particular segment or gender of the society.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
Female staffers in some government ministries and agencies have resulted in another means of easing themselves when nature calls.
FrontPageAfrica has been able to hear and see some of the very unorthodox means by which Liberian women in these places attend to nature when they are pressed.
This newspaper established that not a single drop of water can be found in bathrooms of some public institutions, including the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Transport and Labor. All of these ministries are in diferent locations of Monrovia.
One agency where this newspaper also observed the same thing was at the Center for Archive on 12 Street in Sinkor.
FrontPageAfrica also noticed that in the bathrooms of one of the banks on Randall Street, there was not a drop of water to flush commodes after using them. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop women from going into those bathrooms. They, however, found different ways of easing themselves in those bathrooms, which were still opened to them and others. It was noticed that they were peeing in the bathroom buckets and emptying them (buckets) into the commodes since sitting or squatting over the commodes filled with raw urine, which have been unflushed for days, could create some health problems in their private parts.
Theresa (not her real name) said she had no option but to pee in the bucket as others were doing because she could not find herself using the commode.
“We leave home and spent our entire day here. If you were to look in my pants, you will see there are drops of urine. Some of us can fight to hold ourselves but it’s not always. I do not know why there is no water in any of the bathrooms. We just have to use the bathrooms. Who will hold me for urinating in the bucket?”
Like Theresa, Felecia has to urinate in a pan that is used to dip water from the water drum. She pointed to the empty container in the bathroom. It hasn’t been filled or recieved a drop of water for days as the spider webs were seen on its bottom.
FrontPageAfrica also noticed that some women leave their places of work sooner so as to avoid them being embarrassed. They also to find suitable places to attend nature’s call.
Siatta sits at a nearby entertainment center that has a reservoir according to her. She is comfortable there because when she feels like going to the restroom, she freely goes instead of using the bucket like her colleagues.
Some employees of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), which is adjacent and opposite to Hotel 71 and Access Bank on 20th Street, Sinkor, explained that in order for them to use the bathrooms of those entities, they go in pretending that they have gone to do business with them.
Medical experts have warned that even though women are trying to prevent themselves from being contaminated, their new method is still risky to thier health as they are urinating in one bucket that is not being rinsed after use. They furhter warned that such act increases the risk of sexually transmitted infection by direct contact since the bucket is not used by one person.
One of Liberia’s famous Obstetrician-Gynecologists, Dr. John Mulbah, opined that the odor from the bathroom predisposed people to respiratory tract infection.
Dr. Mulbah, who is a lecturer at the University of Liberia’s A. M. Dioglotti School of Medicine and Pharmacy, furhter stated that the filthiness of places, especially bathrooms exposed women to diarrhea and other illnesses, which can lead to serious complication.
“Women who squat before they pee, they predisposed themselves to bad skin diseases because you are getting in contact with infected commode, it affects your reproductive system which leads to inflammatory diseases.”
According to him, even children who go at those ministries to see their parents get exposed because if there is no water, they immediately leave the bathroom without washing their hands.
Dr. Mulbah stressed that if nothing is done to restore water quickly in those public places, it may lead to a serious outbreak, which will affect the country.
“The Ministry is no different, if one person has a bad skin disease and comes in contact with the bathroom without washing their hands, others who subsequently use the same bucket will be exposed to the skin disease,” he said.
Dr. Jonathan Hart, another medical doctor, said the hand is one of the major mediums of transmission from which individuals are exposed to deadly sicknesses.
“If you can’t get your hands clean, it increases the risk of getting a disease like Typhoid. One bathroom being used by many people exposes each of them to some diseases least I should say that the bathroom is not being taken careof. Many people are exposed due to poor hygiene and no control.”
He recommended that public institutions start to have a reservoir to ensure that there should always be running water to keep all the bathrooms flushed and clean for the good health of thier employees and or customers.
According to British NGO WaterAid, 82 percent of Liberian women are said to be without a safe toilet thereby increasing their risk of illness, shame, harassment, and violence.
The organization furhter said eight in 10 women in Liberia have no access to a safe toilet, threatening their health and exposing them to shame, fear and even violence.
According to the organization, the lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods, and that women and girls living in Liberia without toilet facilities spend 165 million hours each year finding a place to go in the open.
WaterAid said poor hygiene has serious implications on health, causing over a thousand Liberian mothers to lose a child to diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of adequate sanitation and clean water every year. The organization said when women don’t have a safe, secure and private place to go to the toilet they are exposed and put in a vulnerable position and when they relieve themselves in the open they risk harassment. Women are reluctant to talk about it or complain, but the world cannot continue to ignore this, according to WaterAid.