Health experts are apprehensive that reckless garbage disposal and the installation of improvised wells near ever-expanding dumpsites threaten to increase waterborne infections as Liberia enters the height of the rainy season, which typically lasts until October.
According to the World Health Organization, these enormous mountains of trash serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread malaria, a significant cause of disease and death in Liberia, accounting for 46.9% of hospital outpatients in 2020. Poor waste management practices have led to widespread other illnesses, including typhoid and dysentery.
The continuation and survival of life on Earth depend on environmental cleanup. According to Health Minister Doctor Wilhelmina Jallah, an uncomfortable atmosphere damages people’s emotional control and mental stability in addition to spreading diseases or repelling them.
As mountains of garbage expand in the Liberian capital, health officials in Liberia also raised the alarm about the rising pollution levels throughout the nation, particularly in metropolitan areas, because of an uncontrolled waste management system.
In the middle of a health system already struggling to cope with COVID-19, officials are worried that if nothing is done to address the problem, illness outbreaks may become more frequent.
At a recent press conference in Monrovia, Wilhelmina Jallah, the Liberian Health Minister, said: “Looking around Monrovia, there are piles of dirt all over, and this is resulting in some of the recent outbreaks of sickness in the country.
Liberia scored 22.6 on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022, making it the worst nation in Africa. Liberia was ranked as one of the world’s most giant electronic trash dumps and one of the most contaminated regions.
Dr. Jallah points out that upholding a clean environment lowers pollution, protects endangered species, preserves the biosphere, and aids in protecting the planet’s natural resources.
“I am not talking politics today, but as Minister of Health, I want to inform you that the more you don’t care about your environment, the more it will become polluted with containments and toxins that hurt our health.”
“A clean environment facilitates sound health and helps build robust well-being. Cleanness is important, for it builds up a healthy environment and facilitates physical and mental well-being and growth,” she said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) have been careless in carrying out their responsibilities to ensure the cleaning and maintenance of the cities and enforce local laws, as evidenced by the recent rating by the EPI.
Almost every street corner in Monrovia and its surroundings is engulfed by enormous heaps of dirt, resulting in detrimental health effects for the locals, notwithstanding; taxes are collected from residences inside the city limits.
The Paynesville municipal government’s Director of Communication is Jeremiah Diggen. According to him, there is too much garbage in certain parts of the city, which has overburdened the corporation’s operations. They are working with partners like the Project Implementing Unit to find a solution.
” The fact that PCC does not have a transfer station, where you may temporarily dump your garbage in case the landfill has difficulty, is another item impacting us. And while we have been looking about finding adequate land for that reason, this is not a simple undertaking. It costs a lot to get a dump up to code, with estimates ranging from $300 to $500,000 in United States Dollars.
The circumstance has compelled the local government to halt the renewal of CBEs certification and warned them not to collect dirt since the company cannot provide a location to dispose of their land.
“It will be unfair to take accreditation fees wherein we find it difficult to provide a space where they will dump. This serious problem affects us, but we can ask the citizens to be patient. “The CBEs rely on us to collect the garbage from the various transfer station, so if we don’t have the capacity, it makes it difficult for them.”
“In the past, there were people who came around from house to house to collect the garbage for LRD$150, but this is no more the case,” Mrs. Lucia Wehyee, a resident of the Police Academy in Paynesville, told this paper.
The halt in CBE operations, Lucia said, has resulted in all sorts of bad waste disposal practices, something which she claims is affecting the entire community.
“For us, we don’t have a special person to give our dirt to; sometimes we give our dirt to those boys who come around to go and dispose of it for us,” Jovanah Henneh, a resident of Jallah’s Town, said.
“These boys will collect dirt from one yard and dump it in another when no one is around to see them,” she added. Jovanah frowned on the bad garbage disposal practice, which has left the entire community besieged by dirt, and hopes a proper system can be introduced and enforced.
Several other residents have spoken out against the garbage situation; Loretta Davis believes those involved in improper waste disposal should be arrested and thrown behind bars.
Loretta says the reckless garbage dumping around the community affects them in the area. She mentioned the increase in mosquitoes and rats in their homes, which cause lots of sicknesses for the community residents. Patricia wants the government to arrest violators and impose considerable fines to discourage unhealthy solid waste disposal practices. ‘’Even those who give their dirt to Zogos to carry should be arrested and put in jail,’’ she spoke in a somewhat frustrated tone.
“Many persons do not want to pay the fees charged by CBEs; they prefer to give their dirt to Zogos for small fees. These Zogos will throw the dirt just anywhere, causing a serious problem for us,’’ Ma Korpo Sumowullu of Pipeline Community in Paynesville said.
Ma Korpo explains that a few of them subscribed to a local community-Based Enterprise (CBE), which comes around on weekends to collect garbage from various households. Still, in the last few months, they have not been forthgoing in collecting trash in the area.
By: R. Joyclyn Wea