Deplorable sanitary condition in Samokai Camp, a former displaced camp in Upper Caldwell Township has left one person dead and two others affected.
The deceased identified as Philip Karim, believed to be in his forties, is said to have died from a serious ‘running stomach’ while being rushed to the nearby clinic about two months ago.
Residents of the area told WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia that two others and a 7-year old child have suffered severe running stomach for a week now but were rescued by a nearby clinic where they received treatment.
It is not clear whether the latest cases are the result of diarrhea or cholera, but residents said the developments have been triggered by fresh outbreak of a water-borne disease while other residents have attributed the situation to the lack of toilet facilities in the community.
Samokai Camp used to be an internally displaced camp, where civilians from Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado fled for refuge during the Liberian civil war. Now it is a residence of over 1,800 people including children.
A resident, Wokie Massaquoi, mother of five children and a fish seller said the lack of toilet in the area was not only embarrassing but unhealthy and believes that the running stomach illness could be a result attributed to the lack of toilet facilities in the area.
According to her, the entire community lacks access to toilet and at times begged to use the restroom of a local school in the area.
Wokie disclosed that she and other community members use the bushes to ease themselves.
“For the toilet issue, it is very bad on us here. We don’t have any toilet here. Many of us use the bush because sometimes it is difficult to even get the keys to use the toilet,” she lamented.
Wokie said she does not feel comfortable using the bush but that’s the condition they’re faced with.
Another resident, Malike Kemokai who operates a local drug store in that area explained that a few years after the closure of the camp, toilets constructed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies broke down.
Malike said, since then the issue of toilet has been a major problem. “Some People are using plastic bags to defecate and throw them around in the community; and the community is polluted posing serious health hazard,” he stated.
The situation is alarming, as one can barely pass through other sections of the community without smelling terrible wastes that have overwhelmed the community.
Malike confirmed receiving cases of running stomach, and said his drug store is the only help for citizens in the area, as the nearest clinic is about 200 miles away.
The situation is indeed alarming and needs immediate attention or it could result to the loss of many lives as it is often said that sanitation is everyone’s business.
The visit to Upper Caldwell is part of on-going Exclusive Media Focus on Sanitation by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia (WASH R&E), supported by WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone.