Written by Diamonds for Peace Liberia Staff
Brief history of the community
Weasua is a community situated in Liberia’s western region of Gbarpolu County. It has a population of over five thousand inhabitants. The population is high because the community has been a diamond-rich area for many years. It is still believed to be rich in diamonds, therefore, many people are attracted to it. People come from all over Liberia and some neighboring countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, etc.) in search of diamonds. Mining gold and diamonds is the main source of the residents’ livelihoods. Other residents earn a living through agricultural activities and small businesses.
Diamonds for Peace Liberia conducted a community mapping exercise in Weasua. This is a type of assessment tool that reveals different perspectives about a community; it shows the various facilities available in the community and how the residents are accessing those facilities. This exercise helps community residents to identify their strengths and generate ideas for improvement in areas where they are weak.
During the mapping exercise, a volunteer drew a sketch of the Weasua community on the ground while a cross-section of participating community residents (which included women’s groups, mothers of babies, students and teachers, youth, tribal groups, town chiefs, elders, the diggers’ association, the cooperative and the religious groups) watched the process. The participants were asked to pick different objects to represent the different facilities they have in their community and place those objects appropriately on the sketched map. The map showed that the community currently has a few functional hand pumps, a clinic, a school, a police station, 2 GSM towers, a court house, a town hall, churches, and mosques, etc., but there is no public toilet facility in the entire community.
Where do the community residents go for defecation?
Few people in the community have toilets in their homes. The majority of the residents do not; therefore, they are using the bushes, open fields and rivers for defecation.
Effects of open defecation
Open defecation in a community pollutes the environment and creates many health problems, such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, etc. In Weasua, the residents use the aforementioned places for defecation, and they in turn drink from these open bodies of water and also use the water for other domestic purposes. Rats, flies, roaches and other forms of insects transport germs from the feces to the homes of the community residents; as a result they are constantly vulnerable to many forms of diseases which eventually lead to child mortality, poor nutrition, and poverty. The residents complain that they often get sick with diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid. They believe the root cause to be from their open defecation.
Good health is wealth, and it should be available to every human being. However, the people in Weasua are exposed to all kinds of sickness because of their constant practice of defecating in open fields and rivers. The community residents have realized the danger that using their environment for defecation poses to their health. Therefore, they are calling on Diamonds for Peace and other humanitarian institutions to help build some public pit latrines in their community.
Diamonds for Peace is looking for funding to the sanitation project to build public toilets and water pumps in Weasua. If you are interested in supporting this cause, please contact us via email to: info[at]diamondsforpeace.org
Front photo: The community residents discuss the effects of open defecation and the need to build some public toilets. (c) Diamonds for Peace