Liberians in several floods – affected communities in Margibi County have expressed appreciation to the Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) for its intervention in constructing hand pumps, latrines and providing zincs for them to roof their houses amidst humanitarian crisis in those areas.
LNRCS Public Affairs Officer Oniel Bestman, told journalists during a tour of the communities Thursday, 29 March that 31 communities benefited from the project in Margibi and Montserrado Counties in which 30 hand pumps were rehabilitated and six new ones constructed.
He says 15 latrines were constructed and a total of 298 people received zincs and cement.
During interview with Mr. James Gboto, Town Chief of Nagbo Town in Margibi County outside a newly Red Cross constructed latrine, the local official said he and his people have got nothing to give the institution, but to express gratitude for its humanitarian services in times of need.
He says they have often had to use bushes to ease themselves, but they got a lot of children and three older persons died from diseases during recent years of flooding in the communities that got their water sources contaminated.
During the tour on Thursday, journalists were led to unsafe wells dug in bushes by the locals from where they had fetched water for drinking, cooking and washing prior to the intervention. But those wells have been replaced by hand pumps constructed in the middle of the towns by the Red Cross.
Mr. Gboto says Nagbo Town alone has a population of some 150 persons, most of whom live on fishing, farming and burning of charcoal.
“We can go in the bush to toilet, but some kind of water we got here made our children them dying, some of them, myself here my stomach runs and people dying … , no hospital around here. And thank God, let Red Cross do more and more,” he says.
He promises to supervise the operation of the latrine to ensure that it is maintained properly. He adds that since they were given the hand pump in Nagbo Town, nobody now goes to the well again to fetch water because “it is not safe.”
“I knew but ain’t get it. From here to go to Du River, it’s far. Du River, sometimes the people tell us [that] it’s not safe because sometimes the people can leave in the water [drown], all that one before you drink it, maybe you’ll die so we say we’ll drink that dirty water because that place our pa drank when they born us too,” he notes.
Also in an interview, Rattai Town Assistant Elder James Power expressed appreciation to the Red Cross, saying it is the first time for such project to go on in that town.
“We are very happy with the pump and the water, it’s coming out so clear and we’re satisfied with it,” he says.
Liberia has seen very unprecedented flood incidents in recent years which have affected 15,431 people from 49 communities in Margibi and Montserrado Counties, respectively in 2016, according to the National Disaster Management Agency report.
The two counties were badly hit by floods, rendering scores of households homeless and destroying their means of livelihood. Water sources were contaminated, posing threat of water borne diseases. Gardens and agricultural fields were affected by the floods, leaving crops, including vegetables and root crops damaged.
The affected communities and population continue to face humanitarian crisis at the moment, and there is an acute shortage of safe drinking water in places where hand pumps are not constructed.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne