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Scenes from Monrovia (photos supplied)

‘Shithole’ trends on Twitter as Africa faces a poop dilemma

It seems as though "shithole" is trending on Twitter. But where is the poop?

Published: January 13, 2018, 10:43 am

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    Haiti – which president Trump called a “shithole” this week together with African countries – is unique: In 2004, it was 200 years old. It became the first black republic when for the first time in history, an army of African slaves defeated their white oppressors and a new state was born. On 1 January 2004 Haiti celebrated 200 years of independence from white rule.

    The United Nations experts declared in 2015 that one billion people around the world still defecate in public, and it continues to be a major factor in the spread of fatal diseases.

    In a study on drinking water and sanitation, the UN said that rural, low-income communities run an especially high risk of contracting cholera, diarrhea, dysentry, hepatitis A and typhoid. Most of these countries are in Africa, the study noted.

    Efforts to improve sanitation in poor countries has so far concentrated on building more latrines, the UN said, but many people refuse to use them.

    “In all honesty, the results have been abysmal,” said Rolf Luyendijk, a statistician at the UN children’s fund UNICEF, Reuters reported. According to Luyendijk, money would be better spent in educating people as to why human waste out in the open is a public health problem.

    The data shows that defecating in public is continuing to rise in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent where 39 million do not use latrines.

    The history of Liberia is unique among African nations because of its relationship with the United States. It is one of only two countries in Africa, along with Ethiopia, without roots in the colonial European Scramble for Africa.

    It was founded and colonised by freed African American slaves with the help of a private organisation called the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there.

    Black slaves freed from slave ships were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. They founded the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States, naming Monrovia, their capital city, after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States.

    Joseph Mulbah, a janitor at one of the few public toilets in Monrovia, told AllAfrica.com that today the majority of West Point residents do not use toilets. The end result, he said, is that residents flock to the beach to ease themselves.

    In a rather frustrated mood, he lamented that despite the regular cleaning of the beaches by Maritime Authority contractors, adamant individuals still use the beach for defecation. Said Mulbah: “Those people who are using the beaches — they know themselves — all I can tell them is for them to stop. Every day we see Maritime people cleaning the beach. Just as they finished, you will see people sitting there toileting. They should stop using the beach and go to the latrines. You go sit on the beach and make the place nasty”.

    But it may not only be Africa facing a poop problem.

    On a holiday trip to Southern India, in Kerala, an American tourist told Lonely Planet that on Marari Beach, listed in the top six of “Best India Beaches”, fisherman were squatting on the shoreline defecating.

    “I counted an average of one pile poop every 30 meters—I’m not exaggerating or joking!” he said.

    “As a park ranger for many years and medical camp volunteer in a Nairobi slum [in Kenya, Africa] I have seen and cleaned up plenty of fecal matter but after my visit to Marari I doubt I will return to any Indian beach.”

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