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)
While the future of the country’s sugar industry remains uncertain, any turnaround plan must include the reopening of the four sugar estates which the coalition government closed over the past few years.The Wales Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara (WBD), which was the first to be closed by the APNU/AFC coalition government putting thousands of workers and their families on the breadlineThis is according to General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Seepaul Narine, who, during his Union’s end-of-year press conference on Friday, stated that to date, the rationale behind the Government’s move in having those estates closed remains unknown.The closure of the four sugar estates at Rose Hall-Canje, Skeldon, (both in Berbice), East Demerara (Enmore to Ogle) and Wales (West Bank Demerara) threw thousands of persons into a financial crisis.On Friday, GAWU once again questioned whether such an action was to inflict further punishment or to perpetuate impoverishment.“Or, is there something more sinister afoot? We wish to remind that the estates were more than just producers of sugar and molasses, they were the hive of activities for several villages and represented a beacon of sustenance and hope for very many. Apart from being major employers, the estates’ operation ensured that villages were drained, thus, preventing sickness and diseases and which supported local farming activities and the consumption activities by sugar workers and their families sustained many businesses and vendors.”According to the workers’ union, the sugar estates that have been closed possess valuable and fertile landholdings.“Already, we have learnt that the lands at Wales Estate have been distributed to individuals and organisations though there was not even an invitation to allow ex-workers and other interested Guyanese to apply to utilise the lands for economic ventures. We understand that a similar plan is unfolding along the East Coast. This information coincides with the intention of GuySuCo to dismantle the Enmore packaging plant and to remove certain components of the Enmore factory to be used in one of the operable estates,” Narine stated.As yet another year begins, the GAWU executive emphasised that although the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has highlighted a number of undertakings come 2020, any turnaround plan for the industry must include the reopening of the four closed estates.“From our interaction with GuySuCo, we learnt that the Corporation is intent on improving field productivity, go into further mechanisation and rehabilitate its factories. Apart from those investments, the Corporation aims to construct a white sugar plant and a cogeneration plant at Albion. There is also a plan to establish a co-generation facility at Blairmont and to expand that estate’s packaging plant and at Uitvlugt. The GuySuCo shared that it will also improve its facilities to produce more bagged sugar and is examining the establishment of a distillery at that location as well.”Source of financingHowever, despite the plethora of plans that the GuySuCo signalled its intent on executing, the Corporation has repeatedly cried out about lack of financing, resulting in the GAWU also questioning the source of financing for the abovementioned ambitious projects.In the last four years, the coalition government, insisting that the sugar industry is bleeding the treasury, has closed four sugar estates, sending home over 7000 workers.To date, thousands of those fired workers are still struggling to find a job. Many of them often tell of the hardship they face to feed their families. At Wales, West Bank Demerara, children of some of the fired workers are forced to find part-time jobs to help their parents with school expenses.In May of this year, the Government was preparing to sell off huge swathes of land owned by the GuySuCo as part of moves to sell off the several loss-making estates. This was being executed even as the Administration prepared to revive interest in the ‘for sale’ assets by local and foreign investors.