Hanging toilet by the beach: unsafe sanitation
By Diana Coker-WASH-JN SL
The water situation in Yeliboya Island has improved, as residents of the island can now fetch clean water from a nearby village called Moribaya Village, where a water source was identified.
However, despite the improved water situation, the sanitation remains a serious challenge.
It could be recalled that in the year 2012 Sierra Leone experienced terrible cholera outbreak, with a death toll of about four hundred. The outbreak started in two districts in the Northern Province- Kambia and Port Loko District. One year after the cholera outbreak devastated the lives of people, we visited Yeliboya Island- the remote village believed to be the source of the cholera outbreak- to see whether the situation has changed from the last rain season.
According to the Town Chief and Chiefdom Speaker in Samu Chiefdom, Pa Adikali Bangura, the toilet facilities built by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and other NGOs since the year 2005 have been full to the brim, and therefore the only alternative they have is to use hanging toilets located at the beach, whilst children continue to use the beaches as toilet place. He said what they need most urgently is better toilet facilities.
It is the responsibility of the Kambia District Council to provide safe water and improved sanitation for the people of Kambia. Council Chairman, Samuel Sheik Alikali III informed us that the Kambia District Council has facilitated the construction of toilet facilities in the island two years ago (in 2011) through their representative in council, Abubakar Maddieu Kamara. He said the population in Yeliboya is increasing rapidly, describing it as a migrant population, which makes it difficult or rather impossible for them to be satisfied. He noted that it is difficult to maintain durable toilet facilities on the island as it is full of sand.
Although the Chairman informed us that they have constructed toilet facilities in the island, a good number of people we spoke with did not mention about the toilet facilities claimed to have been constructed by the council. However, whatever the Kambia District Council and other NGOs claim to have done, there is need for them to do more to ensure that the people are no longer affected by the cholera epidemic.
The Maternal and Child Health Aid at the Yeliboya Health Centre, Mafereh Kanu, who treated those who were ill and dying from cholera during the outbreak in 2012, said since the start of the rainy season they have not received any case of cholera. She informed us that they are advising people to keep their environment clean and to also put chlorine tablets into their water before drinking it, and assured that as a result of the awareness raising campaign in the community the situation has improved.