The British charity WaterAid has launched a global sanitation report in Liberia as part of this year’s World Toilet Day celebration held on November 19, revealing that in Liberia, over 1.6 million people – approximately one-third of the nation’s population — practice open defecation as a result of lack of access to sanitation, such as toilets. The report, “Overflowing Cities: The State of the World’s Toilets 2016,” reveals that in addition to the 1,620,000 (one million, six hundred twenty thousand) people in Liberia practicing open defecation, urban dwellers living without improved sanitation is equivalent to 72 percent, while 500 plus children died from preventable diseases.The report examines the state of urban sanitation around the world as an issue that is becoming more pressing as two-thirds of the global population is reportedly expected to live in towns and cities by 2050. This year’s program was held under theme, “Toilets and Jobs,” with focus on how sanitation or the lack of it can impact people’s livelihoods.In Liberia, the report said 32 percent of children under five are stunted as a result of diseases associated with poor sanitation.The Team Leader of WaterAid Liberia and Sierra Leone, Chuchu Selma, called on the national government to ensure that everyone living in urban areas, including slums, have toilet facilities.Mr. Selma wants increased budgets from governments and donors on sanitation, clean water and hygiene for the urban poor; he also stressed the need for coordination among government, partners and residents to ensure improved sanitation services are provided.He also urged corporate organizations to play a pivotal role in society by supporting initiatives aimed at raising the profile of slum dwellers when it comes to sanitation.Selma then used the occasion to admonish Liberians from all walks of life to give sanitation workers respect, better incentives and decent salariesHe said India ranks tops for having the greatest number of urbanites living without a safe, private toilet – 157 million – as well as the most urban dwellers practicing open defecation – 41 million. “Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, is falling far behind in reaching its urban population with a toilet, while China is making some strides in reaching its urban population with sanitation,” Mr. Selma said.From statistics, Mr. Selma said, around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhea, which is caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children each day or one child every two minutes.“War-ravaged South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is the worst country in the world for urban sanitation in percentage terms. An estimated 84 percent of urbanites have no access to a toilet and every other urban-dweller there practices open defecation,” he said. He said the report examines the problems facing more than 700 million urban dwellers around the world living without decent sanitation. Selma added that an estimated 100 million of these have no choice but to defecate in the open, using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags, dubbed “flying toilets.”“One child dies every two minutes from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Globally 159 million children under five have their physical and cognitive developments stunted; many of such cases are caused from repeated bouts of diarrhea attributed to dirty water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene,” Selma said.The WaterAid report coincided with programs marking this year’s World Toilet Day, which also talked about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet. The report named South Sudan, Madagascar, Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ethiopia, Liberia, DR Congo and Uganda as the 10 countries topping the list with the greatest percentage of the urban population living without safe toilets. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…says labour issues being neglectedGovernment’s failure to make representation at the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Annual Conference compounded by its meagre reason for nonattendance has definitely ruffled the feathers of theJunior Communities Minister Keith ScottGuyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC).In a statement issued over the weekend, the GTUC said it was extremely disturbed at the failure of government to attend the Conference for two consecutive years, noting that is sends a strong signal of the nonimportance being placed on labour issues in the country.The ILO conference is where governments, employers and workers organisations meet to discuss issues that impact the well-being of each group. These discussions guide the conceptualisation and development of conventions and programmes.The 2016 Conference is being held from 1 to 13 June in Geneva, Switzerland.The GTUC argued that it would have been to the nation’s advantage to be represented at such a high forum where involvement would have taken place in the discussions and shaping of policies and programmes. Guyana would have also benefitted from the input of other participants.No money to attendGTUC said when it discovered Guyana was not attending, efforts were made to ascertain the reason(s) for non-participation.The umbrella union said it was appalled when it was advised that government was not attending because there were not enough financial resources.“GTUC finds it instructive that while the government claims it could not find the funding to attend and participate in the conference, at the same time Minister Keith Scott who has responsibility for labour and was identified to be at the conference, has travelled to Europe, for only God knows what,” the statement registered. The GTUC said it recognises that every government operates with limited and scarce resources, nonetheless it is calling on this administration to make judicious determination in its spending and the prioritisation of events.“The ILO Conference should be within the top priority,” GTUC said.It continued: “This Government is put on notice that it has to be mindful of labour’s role and importance in any developmental agenda and its responsibility to participate at regional and international bodies that would impact this most vital resource of every country.”GTUC reminded that it is of concern to labour that workers continue to be treated as incidental to production and productivity, even though neither can be achieved without their input.Rejected complaints and a Labour MinistryIn addition to the nonattendance at the ILO Conference, the GTUC is perturbed over reports of labour complaints being rejected when reports are made at the Social Protection Ministry, Labour Department.“GTUC continues to receive complains from workers that they are being turned away from the Ministry of Social Protection when they seek to lodge complaints against employers. The process in industrial relations on matters of such nature is not to turn away complainants but to activate a process to investigate and resolve the complaint,” the organisation related.In this regard, GTUC renewed calls for government to re-establish a Labour Ministry.The union had previously pleaded with the President to restore the Labour Ministry. In announcing Cabinet portfolios and the renaming of ministries, President David Granger did not include labour, which in the previous administration fell under the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security.The human services portfolio has now been renamed the Social Protection Ministry, but the word labour has been dropped. Administration officials said the Social Protection Ministry will carry the labour portfolio.In response to these calls however, Granger maintained he made a right decision to not have a separate ministry for labour issues. He emphasised that the Social Protection Ministry is perfectly capable of dealing with matters that would otherwise have been dealt with under a Labour Ministry.