The writer, Alie Sonta Kamara is a member of the Water and Sanitation Media Network in Sierra Leone
Life is the precious gift given unto man and other living things on Planet Earth by the Ever Divine Creator. Life being lived has a great connection to the surrounding nature, more so in creating and ensuring a habitable settlement in the form of communities, which if not properly monitored will pose serious health hazards.
This is very true of certain communities in the world today. Such horrific scenes are apparently being evidenced in certain localities in Sierra Leone, like the Bomeh Dumpsite, Kroo Bay, and Mabela where poverty, hardship and very unhygienic and uninhabitable conditions are quite apparent, with poor eating habits, unclean drinking water, offensive stench of defecations in the open and many more horrendous images constituting dangerous impediments to the society as a whole as well as individual human life.
Freetown is populated with people from every corner of the country. Finding a healthy abode in Freetown has become increasingly difficult, with the high cost of rent very scary leading to many forced to live in shanty communities so as to be within the ambits of the city where they believe they can make life worthwhile. These communities lack many life-boosting facilities and thus do not match the required standards of human habitation.
Many people living around the Bomeh Dumpsite including the affluent and those living averagely are experiencing numerous obstinate maladies like Malaria, which has reached pandemic proportions as noted by the Connaught Government Hospital in their annual health report. These serious health problems arise when high stacks of rubbish would be burnt to ground level sending enormous thick, black smoke into the air.
Mosquito coils are now constant companions, if not they will wake up in the morning with bites all over. The Bomeh Dumpsite is also hosting the city’s septic ditch where septic tankers operating in Freetown deposit unwanted human waste. This ominous situation is also an explicit threat to health.
Many children in this vicinity do visit the site to find scrap metals and expired food among other health hazards on a daily basis to fend for their families and for themselves. In the process of doing so, they come in contact with sharp piercing materials and stale food which have led many children to their demise.
In the rainy season at the Kroo Bay Community, where most of the drainages empty their curdle-like intakes, hundreds of houses undergo flooding. Reports about the death of children and the loss of valuable properties are no longer making headlines. Despite the grave circumstances people still do not have the urge to run for their lives when the dry season takes over again.
People sheltering at the Kroo Bay community use open pits, stagnant water lots and narrow drainages as their toilets. At worst, at times when the rains fall heavily, many of them residing near wide gutters utilize the running water for laundering.
When consuming food, people will do it near filthy and housefly packed zones influencing thereby Dysentery and other stomach ailment health cases. However, a few of these poor residents have developed some miraculous resistance against many of these harmful killer diseases like Malaria, Cholera, Dysentery and Typhoid; many have died as a result of not being immune to these diseases.
As for the Mabela community, situated at the foot of Hagan Street, life has been harder than the other areas mentioned; here, children hardly eat even the barely prepared carbohydrate foods, talk less of balancing their diets. As a result, many of the children become malnourished as they eat foods openly prepared in the community and other nearby shanty areas.
Until situation becomes better as a recipe of considering these mentioned harsh conditions, life in these shanty communities will forever suffer pains, diseases and torn system of living.