Oxfam in West Africa
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The Biofil Toilet Sytem can help solve sanitation issues specially in countries like Liberia (part 1)

January 16th, 2012 Posted in Bloggers in West Africa, English, Health, Liberia, Water and Sanitation

A blog from Jeff Juaquallie, Programme Quality & Learning Officer
Oxfam  in Liberia

Jeff-2There has been a lot of excitement in Liberia and Oxfam GB Liberia about the Biofil Toilet System technology introduced in the country. The essence of this is that many people do not have adequate latrine facility mainly in their homes and even the public one become the worst ever due to maintenance problems. It is not only that people do not have latrine facilities it all depends on where, how, and the effect on the environment ranging from pollution of underground water sources to our rivers and streams. A major part of the problem is that many people who have latrine use the traditional flush system with a septic tank system.

With the septic tank system, there is a foul smell because the waste is decomposed under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions and there is a need for more excavation of large septic tanks to deposit waste water and sludge. In Liberia, many people do not construct latrine due to the high cost of installing a septic tank or a pit latrine. This has left many communities in Liberia to have a bad sanitary environment. We are pressing for much stricter national controls on what can and should be done to improve the way we dispose our faecal waste even in the absence of regulation in the country.

In the Liberia case, just one-third of Monrovia’s 1.5 million residents have access to clean toilet. There are limited latrine facilities in Monrovia’s overcrowded communities such as West Point, Buzzi quarter, Clara Town and Sawmill. Poor or non-existent clean water and sanitation facilities are linked to high malaria and diarrhoea rates, Liberia’s two leading child killers.

In the Clara Town slum, 75,000 people share 11 public toilets and 22 public taps; West Point’s 70,000 residents must do with just four public toilets, said Bessman Toe, head of the Montserrado County slum dweller association, which represents over 40 slum communities in and around the capital.

Some households build their own toilets, but these tend to collapse during the seven month rainy season, so people defecate in the narrow alleyways between their houses, on the beach, or into plastic bags, which they dump on nearby piles of rubbish or into the sea.

To me the sanitation problem illustrates that there is not an adequately sustainable and environmentally friendly system of sewage disposal in the country.

Because of these circumstances, Oxfam GB Liberia is Piloting the Biofil Toilet system in 5 homes/communities in Monrovia. The major stakeholders in Liberia especially from Government have taken keen interest in the Biofil Toilet system.

Have a look at this video among others to have an idea about the efforts invested by the Liberia Water Hygiene and Sanitation Consortium to support the populations to be in a healthier environment.

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